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LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

BY 

THEODORE BEZA. 

Should any one suppose that I have engaged in 
writing this Life of John Calvin from any other 
motive than zeal to maintain the truth, the pres- 
ent state of human affairs will, I hope, easily 
vindicate me from the calumny. For there is 
scarcely any shorter road to all kinds of disaster 
than to praise virtue; and it were extreme folly 
voluntarily to bring down on one's self evils 
which mere silence may avert. But if the wicked 
allow no kind of virtue to be proclaimed with 
impunity, what must those expect, whose object 
it is to proclaim piety, which is of a higher order 
than virtue, and is not only opposed by the 
wicked, but is also very often assailed even by 
persons who are most desirous to appear, and 
sometimes also to be, honest. For piety has no 
enemies more inveterate than those who have 
sincerely embraced a false religion, thinking it 
true. But these things, however formidable in 
appearance, have not at all deterred me. For it 
were shameful if, from fear of the wicked, the 

' 3 



4 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

good were not to be spoken of, and if the voice 
of religion were to be suppressed by the clam- 
ours of the superstitious. 

But should any one object, that to write the 
Life of XSIvm is a very different thing from de- 
fending the truth, I will at once admit that man 
and truth are very different things; this, how- 
ever, I will not hesitate to say, that He who is 
truth itself did not speak rashly when he said, 
"As the Father hath sent me, so send I you," 
(John XX. 21,) and "whoso heareth you heareth 
me," (Luke x. i6.) Let men, therefore, (both 
those who believe through ignorance, and those 
who so speak from malice,) cry out, that Luther, 
Zuinglius, and Calvin, are regarded by us as gods, 
though we are continually charging the worship- 
pers of saints with idolatry ; let them, I say, cry 
out as much and as long as they please, — ^we are 
prepared with our answer, viz., that to com- 
memorate the labours which holy men have under- 
taken in behalf of religion, together with their 
words and actions, (through the knowledge of 
which the good become better, while the wicked 
are reproved, our only aim in this kind of com- 
position, ) is a very different thing from doing as 
they do, when they either bring disgp'ace on the 
lives of men who were truly pious, by narratives 
not less impious than childish, (as an obscure in- 
dividual called Abdias did with the history of 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 5 

the Apostles,) or compose fabulous histories filled 
with the vilest falsehoods, (they, in their bar- 
barous jargon, call them Golden Legends, I 
call them abominable trash,) and endeavour, 
moreover, to bring back the idols of the an- 
cient Gods, the only difference being a change 
of name. 

We are as far from these worshippers of the 
dead as light is from darkness. Against conduct 
such as theirs, the Lord denounces the severest 
threatenings ; ours, on the contrary, he com- 
mends, when he bids us keep both our bodily and 
mental eye intent upon his_works. Nobody, I 
presume, will deny, that of all the works of God, 
men best deserve to be known and observed, and 
of men, those of them who have been distin- 
guished at once for learning and piety. It is 
not without cause Daniel (Dan. xii. 3) compares 
holy men of God to stars, since they by their 
brightness show the way of happiness to others. 
Those who allow that brightness to be entirely 
extinguished by death, deserve to be themselves 
plunged in thicker darkness than before. I have 
no intention, however, to imitate those who, in 
their eagerness for declamation and panegyric, 
have not so much adorned the truth as brought 
it into suspicion. Trying not how elegantly, but 
how truly I could write, I have preferred the 
style of simple narrative. 



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J 



LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN. 



JOHN CALVIN. 



John Calvin was born at Noyons, a celebrated 
town in Picardy, or at leasf on the confines of 
Picardy, on the 27th July, in the year of our 
Lord 1509. His father's name was Gerard 
Calvin, his mother's Joan Franc, both of them 
persons of good repute, and in easy circumstances. 
Gerard being a person of no small judgment and 
prudence, was highly esteemed by most of the 
nobility of the district, and this was the reason 
why young Calvin was from a boy very liberally 
educated, though at his father's expense, in the 
family of the Mommors, one of the most distin- 
guished in that quarter. Having afterwards ac- 
companied them to Paris in the prosecution of 
his studies, he had for his master in the College 
of La Marche, Maturinus Corderius, a man of 
great worth and erudition, and in the highest 
repute in almost all the schools of France as a 
teacher of youth. He attained the age of 85, 
and died (the same year as Calvin) at Geneva, 
while a professor in the Academy of that city. 
Calvin afterwards removed to the College of 
Mont Aigu, and there had for his master a 
Spaniard, a man of considerable attainments. 
Under him Calvin, who was a most diligent stu- 
dent, made such progress, that he left his fellow- 
students behind in the Grammar course, and was 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 7 

promoted to the study of Dialectics, and what 
is termed Arts. 

His father had at first intended him for the 
study of Theology, to which he inferred that he 
was naturally inclined; because, even at that 
youthful age, he was remarkably religious, and 
was also a strict censor of every thing vicious in 
his companions. This I remember to have heard 
from some Catholics, unexceptionable witnesses, 
many years after he had risen to celebrity. 

Being thus, as it were, destined to the sacred 
office, his father procured a benefice for him from 
the Bishop of Noyons, in what is called the 
Cathedral church, and thereafter the cure of a 
parish connected with a suburban village called 
Pont-Eveque, the birth-place of his father, who 
continued to live in it till his removal to the town. 
It is certain that Calvin, though not in priest's 
orders, preached several sermons in this place be- 
fore he quitted France. The design of making 
him a priest was interrupted by a change in the 
views both of father and son — in the former, 
because he saw that the Law was a surer road 
to wealth and honour, and in the latter, because, 
having been made acquainted with the reformed 
faith, by a relation named Peter Robert Olivet, 
(the person to whom the churches of France owe 
that translation of the Old Testament, from the 
Hebrew, which was printed at Neufchatel,) he 



*' 



8 UFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

had begun to devote himself to the study of the 
Holy Scriptures, and, from an abhorrence at all 
kinds of superstition, to discontinue his attend- 
ance on the public services of the Church. 

Having set out for Orleans, to study law, which 
was there taught by Peter De TEtoile, by far the 
first French lawyer of that period, Calvin, in a 
short time, made such astonishing progress, that 
he very often officiated for the professors, and 
was considered rather a teacher than a pupil. 
On his departure, he was presented with a Doc- 
tor's degree, free of expense, and with the 
unanimous consent of all the professors, as a 
return for the services which he had rendered to 
the Academy. Meanwhile, however, he diligently 
cultivated the study of sacred literature, and made 
such progress, that all in that city who had any 
desire to become acquainted with a purer reli- 
gion, often called to consult him, and were greatly 
struck both with his learning and his zeal. Some 
persons, still alive, who were then on familiar 
terms with him, say, that, at that period, his 
custom was, after supping very frugally, to con- 
tinue his studies until midnight, and on getting 
up in the morning, to spend some time meditat- 
ing, and, as it were, digesting what he had read 
in bed, and that while so engaged, he was very 
unwilling to be interrupted. By these prolonged 
vigils he no doubt acquired solid learning, and 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 9 

an excellent memory; but it is probable he also 
contracted that weakness of stomach, which after- i] 
wards brought on various diseases, and ultimately ^ 
led to his untimely death. 

The Academy of Bourges had, at this time, 
acquired great celebrity through Andrew Alciat, 
(undoubtedly the first lawyer of his age,) who 
had been invited to it irom Italy. Calvin thought 
it right to study under him also. He accordingly 
went thither, and on grounds, both religious and 
literary, formed a friendship with Meldiior Wol- 
mar, a German from Rothweil, and professor of -^ 
Greek. I have the greater pleasure in mention- 
ing his name, because he was my own teacher, 
and the only one I had from boyhood up to 
youth. His learning, piety, and other virtues, 
together with his admirable abilities as a teacher 
of youth, cannot be sufficiently praised. On his 
suggestion, and with his assistance, Calvin learned 
Greek. The recollection of the benefit which he 
thus received from Wolmar, he afterwards pub- 
licly testified by dedicating to him his Com- 
mentary on the First Epistle to the Corinthians. 

While engaged in these studies, . Calvin still 
diligently cultivated sacred literature, and also 
occasionally preached in Liniere, a village near 
Bourges, in the presence, and with the approba- 
tion, of its proprietor. 

A sudden intimation of the death of his father 



10 UFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

called him back to his native town. Shortly after, 
in his twenty-fourth year, he went to Paris, and 
there wrote his excellent Commentary on Seneca's 
Treatise, De Qementia, This very grave writer 
being obviously in accordance with Calvin's dis- 
position, was a great favourite with him. A few 
months' residence here made him known to all 
who desired a reform in religion. Among others, 
I have heard him mention, with strong testimony 
to his piety, Stephen Forge, a distinguished mer- 
chant, who afterwards suffered martyrdom in the 
cause of Christ, and to whose name Calvin gave 
celebrity in the work which he published against 
the Libertines. 

About this time, Calvin renouncing all other 
studies, devoted himself to God, to the great de- 
light of all the pious who were then holding secret 
meetings in Paris. It was not long before an 
occasion occurred for strenuous exertion. The 
person who at this time held the office of Rector 
in the University of Paris was Nicholas Cop, son 
of William Cop of Basle, physician to the King. 
He having, according to custom, to deliver an 
oration on the ist of November, the day on which 
the festival of All Saints is celebrated by the 
Papists, Calvin furnished him with one in which 
religion was treated more purely and clearly than 
it was previously wont to be. This could not be 
tolerated by the Sorbonne, and being also dis- 



BY THEODORE BEZA. ii 

approved by the Senate, or Parliament, that body 
cited the Rector to appear before them. He ac- 
cordingly set out with his officers, but being 
warned on the way to beware of his enemies, 
turned back, and afterwards quitting the country, 
retired to Basle. Search was made at the Col- 
lege of Fortret, where Calvin was then residing. 
He happened not to be at home, but his papers 
were seized, and among them numerous letters 
from his friends. However, the worst which 
happened was, that the lives of many of them 
were brought into the greatest jeopardy — so very 
bitter were those judges against the Church, and, 
in particular, one of their number, called John 
Morin, whose savage proceedings are well re- 
membered. This tempest the Lord dispersed by 
the instrumentality of the Queen of Navarre, 
(only sister of Francis, the reigning monarch,) a 
woman of distinguished genius, and at this time 
a great patroness of the Reformers. Inviting 
Calvin to her Court, she received him, and lis- 
tened to him with the greatest respect. 

Calvin after this left Paris, and removing to 
the province of Saintonge, became assistant to a 
friend, at whose request he wrote certain brief 
Christian exhortations, which in some parishes 
were read during divine service, in order that the 
people might be gradually trained to the investi- 
gation of the truth. About this time also he went 



12 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

to Nerac, in Gascony, to pay a visit to old James 
Lefevre of Estaples, whose life had been brought 
into danger by the babbling Sorbonnists, who 
had attacked him for his animadversions on 
scholastic theology^ and his pursuits in mathe- 
maticSy and other branches of philosophy, which 
have been restored to the University of Paris, but 
not without a very long and bitter contest. This 
good old man, whom the Queen of Navarre had 
delivered out of the hands of the Sorbonnists, 
and placed in Nerac, which was subject to her 
authority, was delighted with young Calvin, and 
predicted that he would prove a distinguished in- 
strument in restoring the kingdom of heaven in 
France. Calvin, after some time, returned to 
Paris, brought thither as it seemed directly by 
the hand of God. For the impious Servetus, 
who had already begun to circulate his venomous 
attacks on the Holy Trinity, had arrived. As he 
pretended to be most desirous of a conference, 
Calvin fixed the time and place, though at the 
greatest risk of his life, (the rage of the enemy 
compelling him at that time to be in hiding,) but 
Servetus never came. A mere sight of Calvin 
was more than he could bean This was in the 
year 1534, a year rendered famous by savage 
proceedings against many of the Reformers — 
Gerard Roussel, a Doctor of Sorbonne, but a 
great favourer of the new doctrines, and also 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 13 

Corald, of the order of St Augustine, who, aided 
by the Queen of Navarre, had done much during 
this and the previous year to promote the cause 
of Christ in Paris, having been not only driven 
from the pulpit, but thrown into prison. And to 
such a degree was the rage of the infatuated 
monarch Francis inflamed, on account of certain 
squibs against the mass which had been circulated 
over the city, and even fixed to the door of his 
own bed-chamber, that a public fast having been 
appointed, during which he went to church along 
with his three children, with his head uncovered, 
and carrying a blazing torch as a kind of expia- 
tion, he ordered thirty-two martyrs to be burned 
alive, (eight at each of the four most public places 
in the city,) and also declared with solemn oath 
that he would not spare even his own children, 
if they were infected with those dire heresies, as 
he called them. 

Calvin perceiving this state of matters, shortly 
after he had published his admirable Treatise, 
entitled Psychopannychia, against the error of 
those who, reviving a doctrine which had been 
held in the earliest ages, taught that the soul, 
when separated from the body, falls asleep, deter- 
mined to withdraw from France. Accordingly, 
in company with the person whom we have men- 
tioned that he lived with for some time at 
Saintonge, he set out to Basle, by the way of 



14 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

Lorraine; but when not far frcMn the town of 
Metz, was brought into the greatest difficulty by 
the perfidy of one of his servants, who ran off 
with all the money belonging to both, and being 
mounted on the stronger horse, suddenly fled with 
such speed that it was impossible to overtake him. 
His masters were thus left so unprovided with 
the means of travelling, that they were obliged 
to borrow ten crowns from the other servant, and 
in that way arrived with difficulty, first at Stras- 
burgh, and afterwards at Basle. There he lived 
on intimate terms with those two distinguished 
men, Simon Grynaeus and Wolfgang Capito, and 
devoted himself to the study of Hebrew. Though 
most desirous to remain in retirement, as appears 
from a letter which Bucer addressed to him in 
the following year, he was compelled to publish 
his Institutes of the Christian Religion, a rude 
sketch of that most celebrated work. The Ger- 
man princes, who had espoused the cause of the 
gospel, and whose friendship Francis was then 
courting, feeling offended with him at his perse- 
cutions of the Protestants, the excuse offered, on 
the suggestion of William Bellay of Lange, was, 
that he had not punished any but Anabaptists, 
who substituted their own spirit for the divine 
Word, and held all civil magistrates in contempt. 
Calvin not submitting to have such a stigma fixed 
on the true religion, seized the opportunity to 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 15 

publish what must be regarded as an incomparable 
work, accompanying it with an excellent prefatory 
address to the King himself. Had the monarch 
read it, I am much mistaken if a severe wound 
would not even then have been inflicted on the 
Babylonish harlot. For that prince, unlike those 
who succeeded him, was very capable of form- 
ing an opinion, and had given proof of no small 
discernment; was a patron of learned men, and 
not personally disaffected to the Reformers. But 
the sins of the French people, and also of the King 
himself, on account of which the wrath of God 
then impended over them, did not allow him to 
hear of that work, far less to read it. Calvin, 
after publishing it, and thereby, as it were, per- 
forming his duty to his country, felt an inclina- 
tion to visit the Duchess of Ferrara, a daughter 
of Louis XIL, whose piety was then greatly 
spoken of, and, at the same time, pay his respects 
to Italy as from a distance. He accordingly 
visited the Duchess, and, in so far as the state of 
the times permitted, confirmed her in her zeal for 
true religion. She ever after had a great attach- 
ment to him while he was alive, and now surviv- 
ing him, has recently given a strong proof of 
grateful respect to his memory. 

Calvin left Italy, which he was wont to say 
he had only entered that he might be able to 
leave it, and returned to France. After settling 



i6 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

his affairs, and taking with him Anthony Calvin, 
his only surviving brother, his purpose was to 
return to Basle or Strasburgh. Owing to the 
war, the other roads were shut up, and he was 
obliged to proceed through Switzerland. In this 
way he came to Geneva, having himself no 
thought of this city, but brought thither by 
\/ Providence, as afterwards appeared. A short 

time before, the gospel of Christ had been in- 
troduced in a wonderful manner into that city 
by the exertions of two most illustrious men, viz., 
William Farel from Dauphiny, (not a monk, as 
some have pretended, but a scholar of James 
Lefevre of Estaples,) and Peter Viret of Orb, in 
the territory of Berne and Friburgh, whose 
labours the Lord afterwards most abundantly 
blessed. Calvin having, in passing through 
Geneva, paid them a visit, as good men are wont 
to do to each other, Farel, a person obviously 
inspired with a kind of heroic spirit, strongly 
urged him, instead of proceeding farther, to stay 
and labour with him at Geneva. When Calvin 
could not be induced to consent, Farel thus ad- 
dressed him : "You are following only your own 
wishes, and I declare, in the name of God Al- 
mighty, that if you do not assist us in this work 
of the Lord, the Lord will punish you for seeking 
your own interest rather than his." Calvin, 
struck with this fearful denunciation, submitted 



r 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 17 

to the wishes of the Presbytery and the Magis- 
trates, by whose suffrage, the people consenting, 
he was not only chosen preacher, (this he had at 
first refused,) but was also appointed Professor 
of Sacred Literature — ^the only office he was will- V 
ing to accept. This took place in August 1536; 
a year which is also remarkable for the strict 
alliance that was formed between the two cities 
of Berne and Geneva, and for the accession of 
Lausanne to the Reformation, after a free dis- 
cussion with the Papists, in which Calvin took 
part. 

At this time, Calvin published a short formula 
of Christian doctrine, adapted to the Church of 
Geneva, which had just escaped from the pollu- 
tions of the Papists. To this he appended a 
Catechism, not the one that we now have, in the 
form of question and answer, but another much 
shorter, containing only the leading heads of re- 
ligion. Endeavouring afterwards, with Farel and 
Coral, to settle the affairs of the Church, — ^most 
of his colleagues, from timidity, keeping aloof 
from the contest, and some of them (this gave 
Calvin the greatest uneasiness) even secretly im- 
peding the work of the Lord, — ^his first object 
was to obtain from the citizens, at a meeting at- 
tended by the whole body of the people, an open 
abjuration of the Papacy, and an oath of ad- 
herence to the Christian religion and its discipline, 



i8 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

as comprehended under a few heads. Although 
not a few refused, as might have been expected 
in a city which had just been deHvered from the 
snares of the Duke of Savoy, and the yoke of 
Antichrist, and in which factions still greatly pre- 
vailed, yet by the good hand of the Lord, on the 
20th of July 1537, (the clerk of the city taking 
the lead,) the senate and people of Geneva sol- 
emnly declared their adherence to the leading 
doctrines and discipline of the Christian religion. 
Satan, exasperated (but in vain) at these pro- 
ceedings, and thinking that what he had attempted 
in an endless variety of ways, by foreign enemies, 
he might be able to accomplish under the cloak 
of piety, stirred up first the Anabaptists, and 
afterwards Peter Caroli, to attempt not only to 
interrupt, but even utterly to destroy and subvert, 
the work of the Lord. Of this Caroli, to whom 
this work was most disagreeable, both from its 
own nature, and because it interfered with views 
he was proved to have entertained, we will speak 
by and by. But, as the event showed, the I^ord 
had anticipated Satan. For Calvin and his col- 
leagues having brought the Anabaptists to free 
discussion in public, so thoroughly refuted them 
by the Word of God alone, on the i8th of March 
I537> that, from that time, (a rare instance of 
success,) not above one or two appeared in that 
church. 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 19 

Peter Caroli, the other disturber of the Church, 
occasioned greater and longer disturbance, but I 
will only give the leading heads, because a full 
history of the contest is extant, and may also be 
learned from a letter of Calvin to Grynaeus. The 
Sorbonne, the mother who gave birth to this most 
impudent sophist, having afterwards thrown him 
off as a heretic, though he little deserved this at 
her hands, he went, first to Geneva, next to 
Lausanne, and afterwards to Neufchatel, the 
spirit of Satan so accompanying him, that in 
every place to which he came he left manifest 
traces of his turpitude. Finding himself dis- 
covered by our people, he went over to the enemy, 
and from the enemy again returned to us. His 
proceedings are well described by Farel in a long 
letter to Calvin. Ultimately he began to attack 
our best men, especially Farel, Calvin, and Viret, 
charging them with error on the subject of the 
Holy Trinity, and a very full synod having been 
held at Berne, P. Caroli was convicted of 
calumny. After this he went to Metz, suborned 
to impede the work of the Lord, which Farel 
had there happily commenced. Subsequently he 
wrote a letter, in which he openly attacked the 
Reformers, the object of the hungry dog evi- 
dently being to show his perfect readiness to 
apostatise, and thereby obtain some appointment. 
He was, however, dispatched to Rome, to give 



20 . LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

satisfaction in presence of the Beast herself, and 
being there received with mockery, pressed by 
poverty and a loathsome disease, he, with diffi- 
culty, got admission to an hospital, where he at 
last obtained from the Man of Sin the due re- 
ward of his iniquities, namely — death. Such was 
the end of this unhappy man. 

Meanwhile, in the year 1537, Calvin, seeing 
many persons in France, though they had a thor- 
ough knowledge of the truth, yet consulting their 
ease, and holding it enough to worship Christ 
in mind, while they gave outward attendance on 
Popish rites, published two most elegant letters, 
one on Shunning Idolatry, addressed to Nicholas 
Chemin, whose hospitality and friendship he had 
enjoyed at Orleans, and who afterwards was ap- 
pointed to an official situation in Lorraine, and 
the other, on the Popish Priesthood, addressed 
to Gerard Roussel, whom I mentioned before, and 
who being presented first to an abbacy, and there- 
after to a bishoprick, when the Parisian disturb- 
ance was forgotten, not only failed to keep the 
straight course, but even gradually misled his 
mistress, the Queen of Navarre. 

While Calvin was thus engaged, most gfrievous 
trials befel him at home. The gospel had, as we 
have said, been admitted into the city, and Popery 
been abjured, but, at the same time, there were 
many who had not renounced the flagrant im- 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 21 

moralities which had long prevailed in a city, 
subject for so many years to monks and a corrupt 
clergy; while old feuds, which had originated 
during the war of Savoy, between some of the 
first families, still subsisted. Calvin tried to re- 
move these feuds, first by gentle admonition, and 
afterwards by graver rebuke; but both proved 
unavailing. The evil continued to increase, — so 
much so, that, through the factious proceedings 
of certain private individuals, the city was split 
into parties, not a few positively refusing, on any 
account, to conform to the order which they had 
sworn to observe. Matters came to such a pass, 
that Farel and Calvin, men endowed with a noble 
and heroic spirit, together with their colleague 
Corald, (he whom we formerly mentioned as hav- 
ing contended strenuously for the truth of Paris, 
and whom Calvin had brought first to Basle, and 
afterwards to Geneva, after he himself became 
stationed there,) openly declared, that they could 
not duly dispense the Lord's Supper to a people 
so much at variance among themselves, and so 
much estranged from all ecclesiastical discipline. 
To this another evil was added, viz., a differ- 
ence as to certain ritual matters between the 
Church of Geneva and that of Berne. The 
Genevese used common bread in the Lord's Sup- 
per. They had, besides, abolished what are called 
baptisteries as unnecessary for the performance 



22 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

of baptism, and also all feast days, with the ex- 
ception of the Lord's Day. The Synod of Lau- 
sanne, urged by the people of Berne, being 
decided in favour of unleavened bread, and of 
its restitution at Geneva, thought it only fair that 
the Consistory of Geneva should first be heard. 
For that purpose, another synod was appointed 
to meet at Zurich. Availing themselves of these 
occasions, the ringleaders of faction and discord, 
who had been elected Syndics, (this is an annual 
appointment, and is the highest office in the mag- 
istracy in the Genevese Republic,) convened the 
people, and carried matters with so high a hand, 
(Calvin and three of his colleagues, who agreed 
with him in opinion, in vain offering to render 
an account of all their proceedings,) that the 
greater part overcoming the better, those three 
faithful servants of God were ordered to quit the 
city, within two days, for having refused to 
celebrate the Lord's Supper. This decision being 
intimated to Calvin, "Certainly," says he, "had 
I been the servant of men I had obtained a poor 
reward, but it is well that I have served Him 
who never fails to perform to his servants what- 
ever he has promised." Who would not have 
supposed that these things would prove certain 
destruction to the Genevese Church? On the 
contrary, the event showed that the purpose of 
Divine Providence was partly, by employing the 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 23 

labours of his faithful servant elsewhere, to train 
him, by various trials, for greater achievements, 
and partly, by overthrowing those seditious per- 
sons, through their own violence, to purge the 
city of Geneva of much pollution. So admirable 
does the Lord appear in all his works, and espe- ^ 
cially in the government of his Church! This 
was fully manifested by what afterwards hap- 
pened. 

At that time, however, the three ministers hav- 
ing, in obedience to the edict, to the great grief 
of all good men, first proceeded to Zurich, and 
there, after holding a synod of certain of the 
Helvetic Qiurches, and by decree of the senate, 
attempted, through the mediation of the Bernese, 
but in vain, to conciliate the Genevese, Calvin 
proceeded to Basle, and shortly afterwards to 
Strasburgh. Having been appointed, with a com- 
petent salary, to the chair of theology in that city, 
with the consent of the senate, by the distin- 
guished men who shone like bright lights in that 
Church, viz., Bucer, Capito, Niger, and their col- 
leagues, he not only taught theology, with the 
universal applause of the learned, but also, at the 
suggestion of the Council, laid the platform of 
the French Church, establishing also a form of 
ecclesiastical discipline. Thus, Satan, disap- 
pointed in his expectation, saw Calvin received \/'' 
elsewhere, and, as a substitute for the Genevan 



24 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

Church, another Church forthwith erected. The 
arch-enemy, however, still laboured, as assidu- 
ously as ever, to overthrow the Genevese edifice, 
which already threatened ruin in every part. He, 
accordingly, soon found certain evil-disposed per- 
sons, who, in order to cloak that most iniquitous 
decree with some pious pretext or other, pro- 
posed that unleavened bread should be substituted 
for the common bread which was formely used 
in the Supper. The object was to obtain a handle 
for new disturbance. Nor would Satan have 
failed in this, had not Calvin earnestly exhorted 
some good men who were so offended at the 
change, that they were even proposing to abstain 
from the Supper altogether, not to stir up strife 
about an indifferent matter. The use of un- 
leavened bread thus prevailed, and even Calvin, 
after he was restored, never thought of contest- 
ing the matter, though he was far from disguising 
that he would have liked much better it had been 
otherwise. But another evil, of a more danger- 
ous description, arose in the year 1539, and was, 
at the same time, suppressed by the diligence of 
Calvin. The Bishop of Carpentras, at that time, 
was James Sadolet. He was a man of great 
,v eloquence, which he perverted, especially in sup- 
pressing the light of truth, and had been ap- 
pointed a Cardinal, for no other reason than in 
order that his respectability as a man might serve 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 25 

to put a kind of gloss on false religion. He then 
observing his opportunity in the circumstances 
which had occurred, and thinking that he would 
easily ensnare the flock, when deprived of its dis- 
tinguished pastors, under the pretext of neigh- 
bourhood, (for the city of Carpentras is in 
Dauphiny, which again bounds with Savoy, ) sent 
a letter to his, so-styled, most Beloved Senate, 
Council, and People of Geneva, omitting nothing 
which might tend to bring them back into the 
lap of the Romish Harlot. There was nobody 
at that time in Geneva capable of writing an an- 
swer, and it is, therefore, not unlikely, that, had 
the letter not been written in a foreign tongue, it 
would, in the existing state of affairs, have done 
great mischief to the city. But Calvin, having 
read it at Strasburgh, forgot all his injuries, and 
forthwith answered it with so much truth and 
eloquence, that Sadolet immediately gave up the 
whole affair as desperate. But, indeed, Calvin 
did not wait so long as this to testify the affec- 
tion which, as a pastor, he still felt bound to 
cherish towards the Genevese, and towards his 
own friends, who were then enduring most 
grievous hardships in the common cause of piety. 
Of this affection a lively proof is exhibited in 
those letters which he addressed to them from 
Strasburgh, both on the very year of his expul- 
sion, and also in the year after. The sole aim of 



26 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

those letters is to exhort them to repentance be- 
fore God, and forbearance towards the wicked, 
to cultivate peace with their pastors, and, above 
all, to be earnest in prayer — ^in this way prepar- 
ing them for that so much desired light, which 
it was hoped might yet arise out of the present 
fearful darkness, and which, eventually, and in a 
wonderful manner, did arise out of it. 

At this time, also, he published a greatly en- 
larged edition of his Christian Institutes, and a 
Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, dedi- 
cated to his dear friend, Simon Grynee, together 
with a little golden Treatise on the Lord's Sup- 
per, for the use of his countrymen the French. 
This was afterwards translated into Latin by 
Galars. The subject of the Lord's Supper is here 
expounded with so much ability and erudition, 
that a determination of those most unhappy con- 
troversies, in which all the learned and all the 
good deservedly acquiesced, is chiefly to be as- 
cribed under God to that treatise. Nor had 
Calvin less success in bringing back many Ana- 
baptists to the right path, and in particular two, 
the one, Paul Volse, to whom Erasmus had 
dedicated his Manual of a Christian Soldier, and 
whom the Church of Strasburgh afterwards en- 
joyed as its pastor; the other, John Storder of 
Liege, who afterwards died of the plague, 
and whose widow, Idelleta, a grave and hon- 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 27 

Durable woman, Calvin married by the advice 
of Bucer. 

These were Calvin's studies at Strasburgh until 
the year 1541, in which year the Emperor con- 
vened a Diet, first at Worms, and afterwards 
at Ratisbon, for the purpose of settling the dif- 
ferences in religion. This Diet, agreeably to the 
wish of the Theological Consistory of Strasburgh, 
Calvin attended, and, as it appears, not without 
great advantage to the churches, especially that of 
his native country, and to the great delight of 
Master Philip Melancthon and Gasper Cruciger, 
of blessed memory. The former often called 
Calvin the "Theologian," and the latter, after a 
private conference with him on the subject of the 
Supper, in which he was made acquainted with 
Calvin's opinion, distinctly approved of it. 

But the time had arrived when the Lord had 
determined to take pity on the Church of Geneva. 
Accordingly, one of the Syndic3, who had 
laboured to procure the decree by which the faith- 
ful pastors were ejected, so misconducted him- 
self in the administration of the republic, that he 
was accused of sedition. Attempting to escape 
by a window, he fell, and being a large over- 
grown man, was so much injured, that he died 
a few days after. Another of them was executed 
for murder. Two others being accused of mis- 
conducting themselves on a certain embassy on 



/ 

1/ 



28 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

which they had been sent by the Republic, took 
flight, and were condemned in absence. The city 
being thus rid of its filth and froth, began to long 
for its Farel and its Calvin. As there seemed 
very little hope of getting back Farel from Neuf- 
chatel, the State turns its whole attention to 
Calvin, and employing the mediation of Zurich, 
sends an embassy to Strasburgh to obtain the 
consent of the inhabitants to his return. These 
expressed great reluctance to part with him. 
Calvin himself, although the injuries which he 
had received at the instigation of certain wicked 
men, had made no change upon his affection for 
the Genevese, yet having an aversion to disturb- 
ances, and seeing that the Lord had blessed his 
ministry in the Church of Strasburgh, stated 
plainly that he would not return. Bucer also, and 
others, declared that they would have the great- 
est objection to part with him. The Genevese, 
however, persisting, Bucer came to be of opinion 
that their prayers should be complied with; but 
he never would have obtained Calvin's consent, 
had he not given warning of Divine judgment, 
and appealed to the example of Jonah. These 
things having occurred about the time when 
Calvin had to go with Bucer to the Diet of Ratis- 
bon, (for so it had been determined,) his return 
was postponed, and the Genevese obtained the 
consent of the people of Berne, that Peter Viret, 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 29 

of Lausanne, should go for a short time and 
officiate at Geneva. This made Calvin the less 
reluctant to return, inasmuch as he was to have 
a colleague, whose aid and advice would be of 
the greatest use to him in restoring the Church. 
Accordingly, after the lapse of several months, 
Calvin returned to Geneva on the 1 3th of Septem- 
ber 1 541, amid the congratulations of the whole 
people, and especially of the Senate, who then 
sincerely acknowledged the singular goodness of 
God towards them, and who never ceased to urge 
the people of Strasburgh to expunge a reserva- 
tion which they had made, making the return 
only temporary. This they at length conceded, 
on condition, however, that the honorary free- 
dom of the city which they had conferred on 
Calvin should remain unimpaired, and that he 
should continue to draw yearly what they call the 
prcebend. The former condition Calvin approved, 
but being a person who had no desire whatever 
for wealth, he could never be induced to accept 
the latter. 

Calvin being thus restored at the urgent en- 
treaty of his Church, proceeded to set it in order. 
Seeing that the city stood greatly in need of a 
curb, he declared, in the first place, that he could 
not properly fulfil his ministry, unless, along with 
Christian doctrine, a regular presbytery with full 
ecclesiastical authority were established. At that 



]/ 



30 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

time, therefore, (but this matter will be more 
fully explained farther on,) laws for the election 
of a presbytery, and for the due maintenance of 
that order, were passed, agreeably to the Word 
of God, and with the consent of the citizens them- 
selves. These laws Satan afterwards made many 
extraordinary attempts to abolish, but without 
success. Calvin also wrote a Catechism in French 
and Latin, not at all differing in substance from 
the former one, but much enlarged, and in the 
form of question and answer. This may well be 
termed an admirable work, and has been so much 
approved in foreign countries, that it has not only 
been translated into a great number of living lan^ 
guages, such as the German, English, Scotch, 
Flemish, and Spanish, but also into Hebrew by 
Emanuel Tremmellius, a Christian Jew, and most 
elegantly into Greek by Henry Stephen. What 
his ordinary labours at this time were will be 
seen from the following statement. During the 
week he preached every alternate and lectured 
every third day, on Thursday he met with the 
Presbytery, and on Friday attended the ordinary 
Scripture meeting, called "The C9ngTegation," 
where he had his full share of the duty. He also 
wrote most learned Commentaries on several of 
the books of Scripture, besides answering the 
enemies of religion, and maintaining an exten- 
sive correspondence on matters of importance. 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 31 

Any one who reads these attentively, will be 
astonished how one man could be fit for labours^ 
so numerous and so great. He availed himself 
much of the aid of old Farel and Viret, while, at 
the same time, he was also of great service to 
them. This friendship and intimacy was not less 
hateful to the wicked than delightful to all the 
pious, and, in truth, it was a most pleasing spec- 
tacle to sec and hear those three distinguished 
men, carrying on the work of God so harmoni- 
ously, and yet differing so much from each other 
in the nature of their g^fts. Farel excelled in a 
certain sublimity of mind, so that nobody could 
either hear his thunders without trembling, or lis- 
ten to his most fervent prayers without feeling al- 
most as it were carried up into heaven. Viret pos- 
sessed such winning eloquence, that his entranced 
audience hung upon his lips. Calvin never spoke 
without filling the mind of the hearer with most 
weighty sentiments. I have often thought that 
a preacher compounded of the three would have 
been absolutely perfect. 

To return to Calvin, — ^in addition to these em- 
plo3rments, he had many others, arising out of 
circumstances domestic and foreign. For the 
Lord so blessed his ministry, that persons flocked 
from all parts of the Christian world, some to 
take his advice in matters of religion, and others 
to hear him. Hence, we have seen an Italian, an 



32 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

English, and, finally, a Spanish Church at Geneva, 
one city seeming scarcely sufficient to entertain 
so many guests. But though at home he was 
courted by the good, and feared by the bad, and 
matters had been admirably arranged, yet there 
were not wanting individuals who gave him great 
annoyance. These disputes we will explain in, 
order, that posterity may have a singular example 
of fortitude, which each may imitate according 
to his ability. 

To resume our narrative, as soon as he returned 
to the city, calling to mind the saying, (Matth. 
vi. 33,) "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and 
his righteousness; and all other things will be 
added unto you," the first thing he did was to 
obtain the consent of the Senate to a form of 
ecclesiastical polity, which was agreeable to the 
Word of God, and from which neither ministers 
nor people should afterwards be permitted to de- 
part. The form which had been formerly ap- 
proved was hated by some among the common 
people, and also by some of the leading citizens, 
who, though they had renounced the Pope, had as- 
sumed the name of Qirist in name only. Some 
also of the ministers who had remained in the 
city when these good men were driven out of it, 
(the chief of them, indeed, being afterwards ac- 
cused of flagrant misconduct, had basely deserted 
their posts,) although they did not dare to resist 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 33 

the testimony of their conscience, yet secretly op- 
posed it, not easily allowing themselves to be 
reduced into order. Nor did they want a pretext 
for their malice, viz., the example of other 
Churches in which there was no excommunica- 
tion. In short, there were not wanting some who 
cried out that a Popish tyranny was re-estab- 
lished. But Calvin's firmness, combined with 
singular moderation, overcame these difl&culties. 
He demonstrated that not only doctrines, but also 
the form of Church government, must be sought 
for in Scripture, and appealed, in support of his 
views, to the expressed opinion of the most dis- 
tinguished men of the age, as CEcolampadius, 
Zuinglius, Zuichius, Philip, Bucer, Capito, and 
Myconius; still not condemning as antichristian 
those Churches which had not proceeded the same 
length, or those pastors who thought that their 
flocks did not require to be so curbed. In fine, 
he demonstrated how great the difference was 
between Popish tyranny and the yoke of the 
Lord. In this way he was successful in getting 
those laws of ecclesiastical polity, which that 
Church still observes, to be drawn up with uni- 
versal consent, read over, and finally approved by 
the suffrages of the people, on the 20th of No- 
vember. 

Although these things had been happily begun, 
yet as Calvin perceived that they could not be 



34 UFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

carried into practice without considerable diffi- 
culty, he felt exceedingly desirous that Viret, 
whom the Bernese had only parted with for a 
time, and Farel, whom the inhabitants of Neuf- 
chatel had received on his ejection, should be 
appointed his perpetual colleagues. In this, how- 
ever, he did not succeed, Viret having shortly 
after returned to Lausanne, and Farel again fixed 
his residence at Neufchatel. Hence the merit of 
restoring the Genevan Church is almost entirely 
due to Calvin alone. In the following year, 
( 1 542, ) Calvin had no few sources of annoyance. 
For, in addition to those which he had at home, 
the inflamed fury of the enemies of the gospel 
expelling numbers of persons from France and 
Italy, and bringing them into a neighbouring city 
of so much celebrity, it is wonderful with what 
zeal he exerted himself to counsel and refresh 
the exiles, by every kind of attention, to say noth- 
ing of the letters which he wrote for the consola- 
tion of those who continued in the very lion's 
jaws. The same year, two very grievous evils 
were added, viz., a scarcity of com, and its usual 
attendant the plague. At that time the custom 
in Geneva was, to send those suffering by the 
plague to an hospital outside the city. But as the 
assistance of a steady and careful pastor was re- 
quired, and the greater part declined from fear 
of infection, three volunteered themselves, viz.. 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 35 

Calvin^ Sebastian Castellio, (of whom we will 
afterwards speak,) and Peter Blanchet Lots 
were cast, but when the lot fell upon Castellio, he ^ 
changed his mind, and impudently declined to 
tmdertake the office. Calvin wished to do it, but 
the Senate interposing to prevent him, Blanchet, 
who still volunteered, was appointed. Other 
grievous evils also occurred at this time. For 
Peter Toussain, a pastor of Montbelliard, revived 
the controversy concerning the Lord's Supper, 
while, at Basle, there were not wanting persons 
who, notwithstanding of the opposition of My* 
oMius, sought to overthrow the foundations of 
ecclesiastical discipline before they were well laid. 
Two conferences were held with Calvin on the 
subject. At Metz, where Farel, who had been 
invited thither, was labouring with great success, 
the work of the Lord was greatly impeded, partly 
hy the apostate Peter Caroli, whom we have al- 
ready mentioned. How much Calvin laboured 
on these occasions, by writing, admonishing, ex- 
horting, &c., may be understood from his pub- 
lished letters, and is also attested by many still 
in manuscript. 

But the Sorbonne, growing more audacious 
than they had ever been before, in consequence 
of the patronage of Peter Liser, President of the 
Parliament of Paris, (a man whose memory is 
still in detestation,) ventured on an attempt, at 



36 UFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

which the Bishops, or at least the Pope himself, 
would scarcely have connived, had they not been 
occupied in dividing the spoils of the Church 
among themselves, in the manner in which rob- 
bers are wont to do, and so leaving their own 
special duty of administering the word to be 
performed by those worthies whom they call doc- 
tors ; on the same terms, however, on which dogs 
serve their masters, viz., the being permitted to 
gnaw the bones which come from the table, after 
being exceedingly well-picked. The Sorbonne 
then, supported by no authority human or divine, 
had dared to prescribe articles of Christian faith, 
and of such a kind, that both by their falsehood 
and by the extreme childishness so common to 
that body, they must have lost all authority with 
men not utterly devoid of sense. Many, how- 
ever, came forward to subscribe them — some 
through fear and others through ignorance. 
Calvin, therefore, wrote an answer, in which, with 
great learning and solid argument, he refuted 
their errors, and wittily exposed their folly to the 
derision of all not absolutely stupid. In this 
manner that year passed away, and the next 
(1543) was in no respects of a milder nature. 
The same evils, viz., scarcity of corn and the 
plague, raging in Savoy, Calvin again exerted 
himself at home in confirming his people, and 
abroad, in strenuously opposing the enemies of 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 37 

the Church. This he did, especially by the pub- 
lication of four books on the controversy relating 
to free-will. These, which he dedicated to Philip 
Melancthon, were in answer to Albert Pighius of 
Campen, who was the first sophist of the age, and 
had selected Calvin for an antagonist, in the hope, 
that, by gaining a distinguished victory, he might 
obain a Cardinal's hat from the Pope. But his 
labour proved vain. The only thing he obtained 
was just what the enemies of the truth deserve, — 
he excited the disgust of all men of sense and 
learning, and was deceived by Satan himself. 
Philip (Melancthon) has declared how high a 
value he set upon these books, by his letter 
which we thought it right to publish, in order 
that posterity might have a sure and clear tes- 
timony with which to refute the calumniators 
of both. 

From a letter which Calvin himself addressed 
in the same year to the Church of Montbelliard, 
any person may know what answer to give to 
those who complain of his excessive severity in 
enforcing the laws of ecclesiastical polity. The 
following year was 1544, in course of which, 
Calvin explained his opinion of the course pur- 
sued by the people of Neufchatel in the manner 
of ecclesiastical censures. But at home, Sebastian 
Castellio, to whose levity we have already ad- 
verted, and who, though he had an air of mock 



38 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

humility, yet, from his most absurd ambition, 
plainly belonged to the class of people whom the 
Greeks call iSioyv6fiovtc, (wise in their own con- 
ceit,) being filled with indignation, because Calvin 
had not approved of his sillinesses in the French 
translation of the New Testament, effervesced to 
such a degree, that, not contented with teaching 
certain strange doctrines, he publicly insisted that 
Solomon's Song should be expunged from the 
Canon, as impure and obscene. When the min- 
isters refused to comply, he assailed them with 
the bitterest reproaches. Justly thinking that such 
conduct was not to be borne, they called him 
before the Senate on the 30th of June, when, 
after a most patient hearing and full discussion, 
he was convicted of calumny, and ordered to quit 
the city. How he conducted himself after going 
to Basle, where he was at length admitted, will 
be described elsewhere. 

The year before, Charles V. having, in the 
view of turning all his strength against the 
French, promised the Germans, that for a short 
t/ period, until a General Cotmcil were held, which 
he engaged to see done, neither party should 
suffer prejudice on account of religious differ- 
ences, but both enjoy equal laws, the Roman Pon- 
tiff, Paul III., was exceedingly offended, and 
addressed a very severe expostulation to the 
Emperor, because, forsooth, he had put heretics 



BY THEODORE BEZA. ^ 

on a footing with Catholics, and, as it were, put 
his sickle into another man's com. Cssar gave 
what answer seemed proper, but Calvin, because 
the truth of the gospel, and the innocence of the 
godly, was deeply injured by that letter, repressed 
the audacity of the Pontiff. A diet of the em- 
pire was at this time held at Spires, and Calvin, 
availing himself of the occasion, pubUshed a short 
treatise on the Necessity of Reforming the 
Church. I know not if any writing on the sub- 
ject, more nervous or solid, has been published 
in our age. The same year, Calvin, in two short 
treatises, so effectually refuted both the Ana- 
baptists and the Libertines, (in whom all the most 
monstrous heresies of ancient times were re- 
newed,) that I believe no one wko reads them 
attentively will ever be deceived by these people, 
unless it be with his eyes open, or if he have been 
deceived, will not forthwith return to the right 
path. The treatise against the Libertines, how- 
ever, gave offence to the Queen of Navarre, be- 
cause (the thing is almost incredible) she had 
been fascinated to such a degree by two ring- 
leaders of that horrible sect, viz., Quintin and 
Pecquet, on whom Calvin had expressly ani- 
madverted, that, although she did not embrace 
their heresy, she held them to be good men, and 
therefore thought herself, in a manner, stabbed 
through their side. When Calvin understood 



40 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

this, he replied to her with admirable moderation, 
as became her rank, and the remembrance of the 
benefits which she had conferred upon the Church 
of Christ, and yet ingenuously and frankly, as 
become a faithful servant of God, censuring her 
imprudence, in receiving men of such a character, 
and asserting the authority of his ministry. In 
short, it was owing to him, that the professors 
of this horrid sect of Libertines, who had begun 
to spread as far as France, afterwards kept within 
the confines of Holland, and the adjacent prov- 
inces. 

While Calvin was worn out with all the labours 
of this year, the following year (1545) com- 
menced with contests, and these by far the most 
grievous in which he had been involved. For, as 
if the plague sent from heaven had not sufficiently 
exhausted the city and its neighbourhood, avarice 
prevailed to such a degree in some poor wretches, 
whom the richer class had employed to take care 
of the sick, and purify their houses, that having 
entered into a horrid conspiracy together, they 
besmeared the door-posts and thresholds, and all 
the passages of houses, with a pestilential oint- 
ment, which immediately produced a dreadful 
plague. They had come under a solemn oath to 
each other to become the bond-slaves of Satan, in 
the event of being induced, by any tortures, to 
betray their accomplices. Not a few, however. 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 41 

were apprehended, as well in the city as in the 
neighbouring districts, and suffered condign pun- 
ishment. It is almost incredible how much oblo- 
', quy Satan, by this device, brought upon Geneva, 
' and especially on Calvin, people believing that 
the arch-enemy was obviously reigning in the 
very place, where, in truth, he was most power- 
fully opposed. 

This year was also infamous for that savage 
butchery which the parliament of Aix committed 
on the Waldensian brethren of Merindol and 
Cabrier, and the whole of that district, not on 
one or two individuals, but on the whole popula- 
tion, without distinction of age or sex, burning 
down their villages also. These calamities af- 
fected Calvin the more deeply, when consoling 
and refreshing a few who had taken refuge in 
Geneva, because he had formerly taken care by 
letters, and by supplying them with pastors, to 
have them purely instructed in the gospel; and 
when they had been brought into jeopardy on a 
former occasion, had saved them by interceding 
for them with the princes of Germany and the 
Swiss Cantons. At this time also, that unhappy 
dispute concerning the Lord's Supper again crept 
in, Osiander, a man of haughty and extravagant 
temper, stirring up the smothered embers. It 
certainly was not Calvin's fault that this fire was 
not extinguished. In proof of this, we have pub- 



42 LI**E OF JOHN CALVIN, 

lished several of the letters which he wrote to 
Melancthon. But the intemperance of that man, 
whom both Calvin and Melancthon sumamed 
Pericles, left no room for their sound advice. 
Meanwhile, the plague raging in the city carried 
off many good men. Calvin did his utmost in 
thundering from the pulpit against the flagitious 
lives of certain individuals, and especially against 
their whoredcmi, from which they could not even 
then desist. In this all good men concurred with 
him, though there were some demagogues who 
resisted his attempts, until such time as they 
brought ruin upon themselves, in the manner 
which will be explained in its own place. To 
these evils were added unseasonable disputes con- 
cerning the rights of citizenship. There were also 
disputes concerning the ecclesiastical revenues, 
which had been carried off by the Papists, and 
which the faithful pastors could not allow to be 
administered so improperly, as they were in many 
places. These disputes occasioned much noise, 
much complaint, and much labour, in speaking 
and writing, but generally to no purpose — Calvin 
openly declaring, that he certainly had not the 
least favour for the numerous acts of sacrilege, 
which he felt assured that Heaven would one day 
punish most severely, but declaring also, that he 
acknowledged the just judgment of God in not 
allowing the revenues, which formerly had been 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 43 

SO iniquitously acquired by the priesthood, to be 
brought into the treasury of the Church. 

Gilvin had, moreover, this same year, a double 
cause of anxiety both at home and abroad. An 
individual, old in wickedness, though still young 
in years, having returned to Geneva, his native 
place, after he had for some time counterfeited 
the hermit in France, began with making a great 
profession of piety. Calvin, who was a sagacious 
and skilful judge of character, if ever any man 
was, soon saw through him, and began to ad- 
monish him ; gently at first, but by and by more 
freely, and after he had given himself a great 
many airs before the congregation, to rebuke him 
openly. He, enraged at this, easily finds out 
persons against whose iniquities Calvin had been 
wont to inveigh, and who were quite ready to 
assist him with their influence and their'zeal. Ac- 
cordingly, when it became necessary to supply a 
vacancy in the pastoral oflice, caused by the death 
of a pastor, he, with his adherents, openly in- 
trigued for it. But why enter more into detail? 
The Senate interposing its authority, orders him 
to be taken on trial. Calvin, with his colleagues, 
resisted, and showing how repugnant his in- 
triguing for the office was to the Word of God, 
succeeded in obtaining the concurrence of the 
Senate to maintain the ecclesiastical laws as they 
had been enacted. At this time also there were 



44 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

some persons in France who, having fallen away 
at first from fear of persecution, had afterwards 
begun to be so satisfied with their conduct as to 
^ deny that there was any sin in giving bodily at- 
tendance on Popish rites, provided their minds 
were devoted to true religion. This most per- 
nicious error, which had been condemned of old 
by the Fathers, Calvin refuted with the greatest 
clearness, though, as they alleged, with too much 
severity, adding the opinions of the most learned 
theologians, Philip Melancthon, Bucer, Peter 
Martyr, and the church of Zurich. The conse- 
quence was, that from that time the name of 
Nicodemite was held in detestation by all good 
men. This name of Nicodemite was applied to 
those who pretended to find a sanction for their 
misconduct in the example of that most holy man 
Nicodemus. 

The succeeding year (1546) was in no respect 
milder than its predecessor. For while it was 
necessary to confirm the minds of the citizens 
against frequent rumours of preparations which 
the Emperor was said to be making against re- 
ligion, and against the wiles of the Pope, who 
was said to have incendiaries in his pay, the state 
of the city was particularly deplorable in this re- 
spect, that the petulance of the wicked, so far 
from being tamed by the many chastisements they 
had received, on the contrary, continued to in- 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 45 

crease^ and at length broke out openly. For they 
had obtained for their leader one Ami Perrin, an 
exceedingly foolish, but daring and ambitious 
man, (whom, for this reason, Calvin in his letters 
nicknames the "Comic Caesar,") and who some 
time before had succeeded in getting the people 
to vote him into the office of Captain-General. 
Thinking, as he well might, that himself, and 
those like himself, could have no footing while 
the laws were in vigour, and especially while 
Calvin was constantly thundering against their 
licentiousness, he began at length, in this year, 
openly to show what he and his faction were 
meditating. This being at once rebuked and re- 
pressed by the authority of the senate, he became 
silent, indeed, but in a manner which more clearly 
betrayed his dishonesty. For a short time after, 
at a pretty full meeting of the senate, one of the 
members, secretly instigated, it is supposed, by 
two ministers of the Consistory, both of them 
given to drunkenness, and not less afraid than 
others of the rigour of the law, accuses Calvin 
of preaching false doctrine. Calvin gave him- 
self no trouble with this barking dog, who was, 
however, put upon his trial, and after due investi- 
gation convicted of calumny. The two false 
pastors in league with him were deposed, and 
even the tippling-houses were interdicted ; so far 
were these bad men from succeeding in their 



46 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

malice. But the fire which had been suppressed 
this year blazed forth in that which succeeded, 
viz., 1547. Nor did any year of that age prove 
more calamitous. The churches of Germany were 
reduced to such extremity, that some of the 
princes and cities surrendered voluntarily, and 
others of them were taken by force, so that the 
structure which had been reared in the course of 
so many years, and after so great exertions, 
seemed to be in one moment overthrown. Those 
were generally considered most happy who, by 
an opportune death, had been delivered from these 
disasters. In this calamitous condition of the 
churches, we may easily suppose how that pious 
breast was tormented, which, even when in the 
enjoyment of peace itself, felt as much for the 
remotest churches, as if the whole burden of them 
had been entrusted to its care. How could it be 
otherwise? What pain must he have felt when 
he saw the most distinguished men, his dearest 
friends, I mean Melancthon, Bucer, and Martyr, 
in such peril, that they were more in death than 
in life ! But that the strong mind of Calvin rose 
above these storms, is both attested by his writ- 
ings, and was also proved by his conduct. At 
home, when vexed to the utmost by the wicked, 
he did not turn from his course so much as a 
hairbreadth. 

To return to domestic strife; his sole object 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 47 

being to show that the gospel which he preached 
did not consist in mere speculation, but in Chris- 
tian practice, he, of course, experienced the hos- 
tility of those who had declared war against all 
piety, and, in short, against their country itself. 
The chief of these, as I have already observed, 
was Perrin. His condition, and that of his party, 
was such, that they were determined at all hazards 
to insist that the cognisance of all matters of dis- 
cipline should be transferred from the Presbytery 
to the Senate. The Presbytery, on the contrary, 
maintained that the laws enacted relative to eccle- 
siastical discipline were agreeable to the Word of 
God, and therefore implored the assistance of the 
Senate, to prevent the church from suffering 
harm. The Senate decided that the ecclesiastical 
laws were to be enforced, and passed an enact- 
ment to that effect. At last Perrin having, by 
his audacity, brought himself into the greatest 
jeopardy, the result of the whole affair was, that 
he was expelled from the senate, and deprived of 
his office of captain, and reduced to the rank of 
a private citizen. But though all these things 
were transacted in open court, it is impossible to 
describe the trouble which they gave to Calvin. 
Indeed, on one occasion, in the Court of the Two 
Hundred, the quarrel rose to such a height that 
they were on the point of drawing their swords, 
and staining the court itself with mutual slaughter. 



48 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

During the disturbance, Calvin coming in with 
his colleagues^ suppressed it, though at the risk 
of his life, as the factious proceedings of these 
men were directed specially against him. He 
proceeded, nevertheless, to express his utter de- 
testation of their crimes, and rebuked them with 
the severity which they deserved. Nor did his 
denunciation of Divine judgment prove vain. 
For about this time, one of them having been 
detected to have written, and to have fixed to the 
pulpit, an infamous libel, in which, along with 
many nefarious attacks on the sacred ministry, it 
was said that Calvin ought to be thrown head- 
long into the Rhone, was, after due investigation, 
unexpectedly found guilty of an infinite number 
of other blasphemies, and punished with death. 
Nay, after his execution, a book was fotmd in 
his own handwriting, expressly attacking Moses, 
and even Christ himself. It, moreover, appeared 
that he had succeeded in infecting others with 
this horrid impiety. In this year, amid all these 
contentions, Calvin wrote his Antidote to the 
Seven Sessions of the so-called Council of Trent, 
and also by letter confirmed the church of Rouen, 
in opposition to the fraudulent proceedings of a 
certain Franciscan, who had begun to spread the 
poisonous errors of Carpocrates, as renewed by 
the Libertines. 

In the following year, viz., 1548, the old fac- 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 49 

tion again burst forth, Satan, for that purpose, 
(the thing is almost incredible,) making use 
especially of the very persons who were most de- 
sirous of suppressing it ; I mean Farel and Viret, 
They having arrived at Geneva at the beginning 
of the year, had delivered formal addresses in 
the Senate, with a view to the settlement of the 
prevailing dissensions, Calvin merely insisting on 
a reformation of manners, while Perrin and his 
party were willing to make any concession, for 
the purpose of reinstating him in his former situa- 
tion. At this time every thing appeared settled, 
but the result shortly proved that these good men 
had merely been duped. Perrin being restored, the 
malignity of the wicked rose to such a height, 
that scMne of them openly used collars cut into 
the form of a cross, for the purpose of mutual 
recognition, while others gave the name of Cal- 
vin to their dogs, or playing upon the name, 
changed Calvin into Cain. Finally, not a few, 
from enmity to him, declared that they would 
not join in the Lord's Supper. All these pro- 
ceedings were sharply rebuked by him and his 
colleagues, and the parties being brought before 
the Senate, the good cause easily prevailed. Ulti- 
mately, on the 1 8th of December, the amnesty 
was again ratified by solemn oath. But in Perrin 
and his party all these things were mere pretence ; 
their only object being, as the event proved, to 



50 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

procure the Syndicate for him, and so furnish 
them with the means of doing more mischief. 
During all this strife, not only was Calvin not 
idle, but, as if he had been living in retirement, 
wrote most learned commentaries on six of 
Paul's Epistles, and in a most solid treatise re- 
futed what is called the Interim, (which had been 
published for the purpose of corrupting the Ger- 
man churches,) and pointed out the true method 
of renewing the Church. Lastly, in a very ele- 
gant little treatise he exposed the falsehood and 
vanity of what is called Judicial Astrology, in 
which not a few seemed to put too much faith. 
At this time, also, having been written to by 
Brentius, who was living in exile at Basle, he re- 
turned an answer, condoling with him in the most 
friendly terms. I wish Brentius had continued 
this connection. He also wrote to Bucer, who 
was then in exile in England, candidly exhorting 
him to write and speak more clearly on the sub- 
ject of the Lord's Supper; and at the same time 
expressing the greatest S3rmpathy with him. At 
the same time, in a carefully written letter, ad- 
dressed to the Duke of Somerset, Protector of 
England, who was afterwards most unjustly put 
to death, he gave a warning, which, if it had been 
duly attended to, might, perhaps, have enabled 
the Church of England to escape many storms. 
During these contests the Church of Geneva 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 51 

wonderfully increased. This, as it exceedingly 
vexed Satan and the wicked, so it put Calvin in 
greater spirits to entertain those who were living 
in exile for the cause of Christ. His anxiety on 
this head was so favoured of the Lord in the fol- 
lowing year, that the rage of the wicked, though 
not altogether extinguished, seemed, at least, to 
be temporarily suppressed. And, in truth, he 
stood in need of a truce, the more especially that 
he had sustained a grievous domestic calamity, in 
the death of his most excellent wife. This afflic- 
tion he bore with a firmness which made him in 
this respect also a shining example to the whole 
Church. In this year, (1549,) a dispute having 
arisen in the Saxon churches, concerning matters 
of indiflference, called Adiaphora^ Calvin being 
asked for his advice, gave a candid statement of 
his sentiments to Philip Melancthon, and at the 
same time reminded him of his duty. Some ac- 
cused Melancthon of being too easy in this mat- 
ter, but undeservedly, as Calvin was afterwards 
convinced on more accurate information. For 
it was not known at the time what was the spirit 
which animated the evil genius of Flacius and 
his whole tribe, who afterwards produced such 
disturbances, and even now impede the work of 
the Lord, assuredly with no less impudence and 
fury than if they were actually in the pay of the 
Roman Pontiff. But the wound thus inflicted on 



52 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

the German churches the Lord compensated, on 
the other hand, by his kindness to the Swiss. 

Some having thought that Calvin was counte* 
nancing the doctrine of consubstantiation, he and 
Farel set out together for Zurich, in order to give 
a full explanation of the matter, and settle it with 
the common consent of all the Swiss churches. 
Good men and those who love truth had no diffi- 
culty in coming to an agreement. And, accord- 
ingly, a Confession was drawn up with the per- 
fect approbation of all the Swiss and Rhaetian 
churches. This Confession knit Bulinger and 
Calvin, and the churches of Zurich and Geneva in 
the closest ties. It is the Confession we all still 
hold, and I hope will, with the favour of God, 
continue to hold even to the end. This year, 
when compared with others, passed away happily, 
and I have the greater pleasure in remembering 
it, because it was that in which I first entered on 
my ministerial functions, in consequence of a call 
given me by the Church of Lausanne, and urged 
on my acceptance by Calvin. About this time 
Calvin wrote two very learned letters to Laelius 
Socinus of Sienna, who long lived at Zurich, and 
ultimately died there. From these letters any one 
will easily discern what the temper of that man 
was, — obviously that of an academic, although 
it was long (indeed not till after his death) be- 
fore the fact was fully established. He had 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 53 

travelled over the churches, and imposed on all 
their most learned men, more especially Me- 
lancthon, Calvin, and Joachim Camerarius, who, 
in his Life of Melancthon, bears very honourable 
testimony to him, contrary to his deserts. It was 
afterwards discovered that he was the chief 
author of the Bellian farrago, of which we will 
speak in its own place, and favoured the mad 
dc^^mas of Servctus, Castellio, and Ochin. In 
his Commentary on the celebrated First Chapter 
of John, which is still extant, he went far beyond 
the impiety of other heretics. 

The following year, viz., 1550, in so far as 
regards the Church, was tranquil enough, and 
therefore it was determined that the ministers 
should at a certain season of the year, attended 
by an elder and a deacon, go round all the wards 
of the city, to instruct the people, and examine 
every individual briefly as to his faith. This they 
were to do, not only in sermons, which some 
neglected, and others attended, without much 
benefit, but also in each house and family. It is 
scarcely credible how great benefit ensued. An- 
other arrangement was, that the celebration of 
our Saviour's nativity should be deferred to the 
Sabbath-day following, and that there should be 
no other feast-days, except one in seven, which 
we call the Lord's Day. This gave offence to a 
very great number of persons, so that there were 



54 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

not wanting some who gave out that even the 
Lord's Day was suppressed by Calvin. Their 
object was to bring odium upon him, although 
the fact was, that the matter had been discussed 
before the people, not only in the absence of any 
request from the Consistory, but even without I 

their knowledge. Calvin, however, did not think ' 

it worth while to make a quarrel about it; but ' 

the offence which some had taken at Calvin was 
the occasion of his writing his treatise "On 
Offences," dedicated to his old and faithful friend, 
Lawrence Normand. i 

The dissensions of the following year, viz., i 

1 55 1, far more than overbalanced the two years 
of tranquillity. For besides the grief occasioned 
to the whole Church, and particularly to Calvin, ' 

by the death of Bucer, to whom he was very 
strongly attached, and also by the death of 
Joachim Vadian, consul of St Gal, a man of 
singular piety and learning, the wickedness of the 
factious broke out the more furiously the longer 
it had been smothered; in so much that they 
openly refused to confer the freedom of the city 
on the exiles who had arrived in it. Not con- 
tented with this, they jostled Calvin himself, as 
he was returning, after having preached on the 
other side of the Rhone ; and almost threw Ray- 
mond his colleague into the river, as he was one 
night passing the bridge, by secretly removing 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 55 

one of the props. In fine, they stirred up no 
small tumult in the church of St Jervas, . because 
the minister refused to give the name of Balthasar 
to a child which had been presented for baptism 
— ^that name being for a certain reason pro- 
hibited by an express law. Calvin had nothing 
to oppose to these evils but strong and invincible 
patience; for about this time another new evil / { 
assailed the Genevese Church. 

The occasion of it was furnished by one Jerome 
Bolsec, a monk of the order of Carmelites, from 
Paris, from which he had fled several years be- 
fore. He had cast away his cowl, but retained 
his monkism, and having been also, for imposi- 
tion, turned adrift by the Duchess of Ferrara, 
was converted into a physician in the course of 
three days. Having come to Geneva, and found 
there was no room for him among the learned 
physicians of that place, in order to show that 
he was a divine, he began to babble out errors 
and absurdities concerning predestination. This 
he at first did in private to certain individuals, 
but at length even in public before the congrega- 
tion. Calvin had at first refuted him, and been 
contented to give him a gentle reprimand; and 
afterwards sending for him endeavoured to teach 
him the true doctrine. But either owing to the 
monkish ambition engrained in his nature, or 
spurred on by factious individuals, who were 



56 UFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

looking out for some one through whom they 
might assail Calvin, he openly dared, in presence 
of the congregation, when that passage of John 
was expounded, "He who is of God heareth the 
words of God; and in that you hear not, ye are 
not of God," to bring forward free-will, and the 
foresight of works, in order to subvert the doc- 
trine of an eternal decree of predestination prior 
in order to all other causes whatever. He even 
added insult and mere seditious invective against 
the true doctrine. 

He is thought to have acted with the greater 
boldness, because, from not seeing Calvin in his 
place, he thought he was absent. And so, indeed, 
he was, at the commencement; but coming in 
after he had begun his harangue, had kept stand- 
ing behind some other persons. The monk's ora- 
tion being ended, Calvin suddenly appeared, and 
although it was obvious he had nothing pre* 
meditated, he certainly then showed, if ever, what 
kind of man he was. For he so confuted, mauled, 
and overwhelmed him with proofs from Scrip- 
ture, quotations from authors, especially from 
Augustine, and, in fine, by numerous weighty 
arguments, that all felt exceedingly ashamed for 
the brasen-f aced monk, except the monk himself. 
One of the judge's assessors, whose office it is 
to apprehend culprits in the city, happening to 
be among the hearers, when the meeting was 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 57 

dismissed lays hold of him, on a charge of sedi- 
tion, and delivers him into custody. But why 
dwell upon it? After a long discussion, the 
Senate, having taken the opinion of the Swiss 
churches, on the 23d of December, publicly con- 
demned him as a seditious man, and a mere 
Pelagian, and banished him the city, threatening 
him with scourging if he were again caught in 
it, or within its territory. 

He afterwards went into a neighbouring town, 
and caused much disturbance, until he was twice 
expelled from the Bernese territory. He after- 
wards intrigued for a cure in the French Church, 
which he thought would then be at peace, and 
went first to Paris, and then to Orleans, making 
artful professions of repentance, and voluntarily 
begging to be reconciled to the Genevese Church. 
But when, contrary to his expectation, he per- 
ceived that the churches were in affliction, he 
went back to his medicine, and openly revolted 
to the enemies of the gospel, allowing his wife 
to become a prostitute to the canons of Augusta, 
where he is this good day assailing the truth, with 
whatever calumnies he can. Meanwhile, the 
Consistory of Geneva, at a public meeting, de- 
clared the true doctrine of predestination, and 
afterwards approved of it, as comprehended in 
a public document drawn up by Calvin. All that 
Satan gained by these dissensions was, that this 



58 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

article of the Christian religion, which was for- 
merly most obscure, became clear and transparent 
to all not disposed to be contentious. 

In the following year, (1552,) it became more 
apparent how great a flame had been kindled by 
that worthless man, notwithstanding of his hav- 
ing been condemned by the common judgment 
of so many churches. For the mere difficulty of 
a question which had not been duly explained by 
most of the ancients, nor always discussed with 
the same result, incited curious minds in par- 
ticular to engage in the discussion of it, while 
the factious thought an admirable opportunity was 
afforded them of throwing every thing into con- 
fusion, by getting Calvin expelled. Accordingly, 
it is impossible to describe the contentions which 
ensued, not only in the city, but also in every 
quarter, as if Satan himself had blown the trum- 
pet. For although the pastors of the leading 
churches were admirably agpreed, yet there were 
not wanting some in the churches bordering on 
the Bernese territory who would fain have picked 
a quarrel with Calvin, on the allegatipn that he 
made God the author of sin. Their memory must 
have been short, not to remember that this mqgt 
pestilential dogma had been long ago refuted by 
Calvin, in his Treatise against the Libertines. But 
at Basle, that worthy and single-minded man, 
Castellio, although it was his wont to do every 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 59 

thing secretly, was open enough in his defence 
of Pelagianism. Nay, even Melancthon had be- 
gun to write on these matters in such terms, that 
though he had before distinctly subscribed to 
Calvin's Treatise against Pighius, he seemed to 
some to insinuate that the Genevese were intro- 
ducing the fatalism of the Stoics. I say nothing 
of the Papists, who are even now repeating 
calumnies that have been a thousand times re- 
futed. These things, as might have been ex- 
pected, stung the mind of Calvin; and that the 
more keenly, that at this time the power of error 
was occasionally so strong, that truth seemed 
sometimes compelled, even by public authority, 
to shut her mouth. 

The controversy thus raised was not short- 
lived ; for in this very year the good hermit whom 
we have mentioned above came forth to dispute 
with Calvin. Some years before, having met with 
a repulse when he was intriguing for the min- 
istry, he had turned lawyer, and taken the fac- 
tious under his patronage. The matter was 
keenly discussed by the parties before the Senate ; 
the hermit finding his armour in his impudence 
and the favour of the wicked, while Calvin, in 
defending his doctrine, trusted solely to the 
power of truth. Truth, therefore, prevailed; 
and the writings of Calvin were again approved 
as pious and orthodox, and, strange to say, by 



6o LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

the suffrages even of his enemies. But we must 
not omit to mention the repentance which this 
enemy manifested some years after, and of which 
he was so desirous to have Calvin for a witness, 
that he said he could have no peace of conscience, 
unless he felt in his dying moments that Calvin, 
whom he acknowledged he had formerly unjustly 
assailed, was reconciled to him. This Calvin not 
only did not refuse, but consoled him in the kind- 
est manner in his last moments. 

The following year, viz., 1553, while the malice 
of the factious, which was hastening to its close, 
was so boisterous, that not only the Church, but 
even the Republic itself, was brought into ex- 
treme jeopardy, they proceeded to such lengths 
with clamour and menaces, and, in fine, by op- 
pressing the liberty of the good, that they changed 
the ancient edicts with regard to the appointment 
of senators, (on this subject, the good afterwards 
took the greater care to provide for themselves, 
the Lord favouring them therein,) expelled some 
from the Senate, and pretending fear of the for- 
eign exiles, deprived them of all weapons, except 
their swords, when they happened to go beyond 
the city ; so that it seemed nothing could prevent 
them from accomplishing the design for which 
they had long agitated, as they had every thing 
in their power. And even at this time Satan 
furnished them with another occasion. For that 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 6i 

declared enemy of the sacred Trinity, that is, of 
the whole Godhead, and therefore a monster com- 
pounded of all heresies, however rank and por- 
tentous, — I mean Michael Seryetus, — ^after he 
had wandered up and down for several years, 
professing medicine, concealing himself under the 
name of Michael Villanovanus, had circulated his 
blasphemies, which he afterwards published at 
Vienne in a thick volume. The printer was one 
Amoldi, a bookseller in Lyons, and what is 
called the corrector for the press was one William 
Guerot, who had formerly been devoted to the 
factious among the Genevese, but a few months 
before had left Geneva for Lyons, to avoid pun- 
ishment for fornication and other crimes. Ser- 
vetus having published this large voliune of 
blasphemy, and having, for that reason, been im- 
prisoned at Vienne, escaped I know not how, and, 
by a kind of fatality, came to Geneva, intending 
to pass through it for some more distant place, 
had he not been providentially recognised by 
Calvin, to whom he was well known long before, 
and on his information to the magistracy con- 
signed to prison. The contest which then arose, 
and the important matters to which they related, 
are most fully explained in a work published with 
that view. The result of the whole was, that this 
abandoned man, (into whose ear one of the fac- 
tious, an assessor of the then Praetor, was said 



62 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

to have whispered something which confirmed 
him in his wickedness,) being betrayed by his 
own vain confidence, was convicted of impiety and 
endless blasphemies, conformably to the opinion 
of all the Swiss churches. On the 27th of Octo- 
ber, the unhappy man, who gave no sign of re- 
pentance, was burned alive. In this year Farel 
was so seriously indisposed that Calvin, who went 
to Neufchatel to visit him, left him for dead. 
Contrary to all expectation he recovered, and was 
' able shortly after to refresh the Church. 

So far this year seems to have been divided 
between hope and fear, the former, however, pre- 
vailing in the end. But while the cause of Ser- 
vetus was under discussion, one of the factious, 
Bertelier by name, a man of the most consum- 
mate impudence, whom the Presbytery, for his 
many iniquities, excluded from the Lord's Table, 
comes before the Senate, and prays to be ab- 
solved by their authority. Had this been done, 
there cannot be a doubt that the bond of ecclesias- 
tical discipline being forthwith dissolved, every- 
thing would instantly have gone to wreck. There- 
fore Calvin, in name of the Presb3rtery, made 
strenuous and unremitting opposition, showing 
that magistrates ought to be the vindicators, not 
the destroyers, of sacred laws. In short, he 
omitted nothing which a contest of so much mo- 
meiit demanded. However, the false clamours 

■: \ 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 63 

of those who said that the Presb)rtery were in 
some things arrogating to themselves the author- 
ity of the magistrates prevailed, and it was, ac- 
cordingly, resolved, in the Council of the Two 
Hundred, that, in excommunication, the ultimate 
right belonged to the Senate, who were entitled 
to absolve whom they pleased. In consequence 
of this resolution having been passed by the 
Senate, who had then given little attention to the 
subject, Bertelier surreptitiously obtained letters 
of absolution under the seal of the Republic. 
Perrin, with his followers, hoped that one of two 
consequences would follow — that if Calvin re- 
fused to obey the Senate, he would be able to 
overwhelm him by means of a mob ; that if Cal- 
vin obeyed, he would have no difficulty in de- 
priving the Presbytery of all authority, in other 
words, in removing every restraint upon wicked- 
ness. 

But Calvin, though he had been informed of 
what was done only two days before the usual 
period of celebrating the Lord's Supper, raising 
his voice and his hand in the course of his sermon, 
after he had spoken at some length of the de- 
spisers of sacred mysteries, exclaimed, in the 
words of Chrysostom, "I will die sooner than this 
hand shall stretch forth the sacred things of the 
Lord to those who have been judged despisers." 
These words, strange to say, had such an effect 



/ 



64 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

upon these men, however lawless, that Perrin 
secretly advised Bertelier not to come forward to 
the Table. The sacrament was celebrated with 
extraordinary silence, not without some degree 
\ of trembling, as if the Deity himself were ac- 
tually present. In the afternoon Calvin, taking 
for his text the celebrated passage in the Acts of 
the Apostles, in which Paul bids farewell to the 
Church of Ephesus, declared that he was not a 
man who knew or taught others to fight against 
magistrates; and after exhorting his audience 
at great length to persevere in the doctrine which 
they had heard, as if it was the last sermon he 
was to deliver at Geneva, concluded thus: — 
"Since these things are so, allow me also, breth- 
ren, to use these words of the Apostle, 'I com- 
mend you to the Lord, and to the Wwd of his 
grace/ " 

These words made a wonderful impression 
even on the most abandoned, while they, at the 
same time, seriously warned good men what their 
duty was. The next day Calvin, with his col- 
leagues and the Presbytery, firmly demanded of 
the Senate, and also of the Two Hundred, that 
they should have an audience before the people, 
since the point under discussion related to the 
abrogation of a law which had been passed by 
the people. Their views having imdergone no 
slight change, they came to be of opinion that 



BY THEODORE BEZA, 6$ 

the decree of the Two Hundred shoold be sus- 
pended — ^that the opinion of the four Swiss Can- 
tons should be taken, and that, in the meanwhile, 
no prejudice should be done to the existing* laws. 
In this way that storm was rather dispersed 
than calmed. For the factious seeing it, contrary 
to all expectation, averted from the head of 
Calvin, endeavoured to take advantage of a cir- 
cumstance which had arisen to turn it upon the 
head of Farel. For Farel, who had been suffer- 
ing by severe disease, in the month of March, 
hastening to Geneva as soon as his health per- 
mitted, and trusting partly to the goodness of 
the cause, and partly to his age, and the authority 
which he had long possessed in Geneva, delivered 
a sermon, in which he very sharply rebuked the 
factious. They, complaining that injustice was 
done them, cited him, after his return to Neuf- 
chatel, and obtained letters from the Senate to 
the inhabitants of that town, requesting them to 
allow Farel to appear on the day named in the 
citation. Farel accordingly came, though not 
without personal risk, the factious exclaiming 
that he deserved to be thrown into the Rhone. 
A right-hearted young man among the citizens, 
after warning Perrin again and again to take care 
that Farel, who was, as it were, the common 
father of the citizens, should suffer no harm, tak- 
ing with him another young companion, gave 



66 UFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

information to others whom they knew to be well- 
affected. Accordingly, when Farel made his ap- 
pearance in court, a great part of the city had 
assembled. The accusers, astonished, and now 
alarmed for their own safety, after Farel was 
heard, withdrew the accusation. 

Thus the whole of this year was spent in con- 
tention with the wicked, and in defence both of 
doctrine and discipline, and everywhere with a 
prosperous issue, if we except the wound which 
not only England but all Christian churches re- 
ceived by the death of the most religious King 
Edward. Yet in this very year Calvin was so 
diligent a student that he published his excellent 
Commentary upon John. I may here be per- 
mitted (I wish it were without cause) to say of 
Servetus, what the ancient Fathers, who spoke 
from experience, wrote concerning that twin 
monster, Paul Samosatenus and Arius of Alex- 
andria, viz., that with them originated those fires 
by which the whole churches of Christendom 
were afterwards in a blaze. For punishment was 

^ most deservedly inflicted on Servetus at Geneva, 
not because he was a sectary, but a monstrous 

^ compound of mere impiety and horrid blasphemy, 
with which he had for the whole period of thirty 
years, by word and writing, polluted both heaven 
and earth. Even now it is impossible to say how 
much the influence of Satan has been increased 



BY THEODORE BEZA. (fj 

by that flame which seized first upon Poland, 
then Transylvania and Hungary, and I fear may 
have proceeded farther still. Indeed, it would 
seem that Servetus prophesied under the influ- 
ence of a Satanic spirit, when taking a passage 
of the Apocalypse and interpreting it in his usual 
way, he placed it in front of his book: "There 
was great war in heaven — Michael and his angels 
fighting with the dragon." This is, indeed, true 
if you give the word "with" not the meaning of 
the Greek narht (against,) but of aiv, (together 
with. ) 

Scarcely, therefore, were the ashes of that un- 
happy man cold when questions began to be agi- 
tated concerning the punishment of heretics — 
some maintaining that they ought indeed to be 
coerced, but could not justly be put to death; 
others, as if the nature of heresy could not be 
clearly ascertained from the Word of Grod, or as 
if it were lawful to judge in academic fashion 
of all the heads of religion, maintaining that 
heretics ought to be left to the judgment of God 
only. This opinion was defended even by some 
good men, who were afraid that if a different 
view were adopted they might seem to sanction 
the cruelty of tyrants against the godly. The 
chief abettors of that opinion (and they were 
thereby pleading their own cause) were Sebas- 
tian Castellio and Lselius Socinus; the latter, in- 



^y 



68 UFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

deed, more secretly, but the former more openly, 
having in a certain treatise, which he prefixed 
to his translation, or rather perversion, of the 
sacred books, plainly studied to deprive the 
Divine Word of clear authority, and expressly 
maintained, in his Annotations on the First Epistle 
of Corinthians, as if for the express purpose of 
leading us away from the written Word as im- 
perfect, that Paul had taught his perfect dis- 
ciples — (who they were I know not) — a more 
recondite theology than he had delivered in his 
writings. Calvin having, in the beginning of the 
year 1544, drawn up a full refutation of the doc- 
trine of Servetus, which was subscribed by all 
his colleagues; and having also added reasons, 
showing why and how far it was the duty of 
magistrates, after due investigation, to punish 
heretics, these men opposed him with a farrago, 
raked together partly from misquotations from 
the writings of pious doctors, and partly from 
the lucubrations of certain fanatics, otherwise of 
unknown name. The farrago bore to be written 
by one Martin Bellius. This was Castellio him- 
self, although he afterwards swore it was not. 
The name of the town where it was said to be 
published was also fictitious. To that libellous pro- 
duction, containing not that error only, but teem- 
ing with many other blasphemies, I wrote an an- 
swer, with the view of relieving Calvin from the 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 69 

trouble, while occupied with far better business; 
I mean in writing his most learned Commentaries 
on Genesis and others, of which we will after- 
wards speak, and in warding off the dangers 
which threatened his church. 

For the factious, who were bent on innova- 
tions, still proceeded; and though a second am- 
nesty was solemnly ratified, in presence of the 
Senate, in the month of February, yet their con- 
duct every day became worse. Calvin was thus 
much occupied, both in endeavouring to bring 
them to a better mind, by rebuking them as he 
was wont, and in confirming the good, so as to 
enable them to withstand their wickedness; for 
to such lengths did the wicked proceed, that they 
transformed the Word of God into obscene songs, 
and beat any of the foreigners whom they met 
in the dark, and sometimes even robbed them. 
Privately, and appropriately, they called in the 
assistance of Bolsec, Castellio, and certain others, 
(men, no doubt, very solicitous for the truth!) 
to renew the controversy concerning predestina- 
tion. Not contented with having circulated an 
infamous and anonymous libel, in which they 
offered the grossest insults to the faithful serv- 
ant o^ God, Castellio caused another edition of 
it in Latin to be secretly printed at Paris. To 
this I afterwards replied; and Calvin himself 
also refuted certain frivolities on the subject. 



70 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

which had been drawn up under certain heads. 
His time was also at this period occupied by cer- 
tain exiles from England, who had settled at 
Wesel, Embden, and Frankfort, and who were 
every now and then applying to Calvin for ad- 
vice. Another thing which gave him not a little 
vexation, was the audacity of certain pastors 
(secretly aided by the favour of others) in the 
French Church of Strasburgh, which he himself 
had formerly planted. In short, the extent of 
his labours during this year, in behalf of various 
churches, is attested by the numerous letters by 
which he stirred up many men in power to em- 
brace the gospel, and with the best results con- 
firmed many of the brethren, some of whom 
were exposed to extreme peril, and others actually 
in bonds. 

We formerly mentioned the consent of all the 
Swiss and Rhsetian churches as to the doctrine 
of the sacrament, and its publication, to the great 
delight of all the learned and good. This con- 
cord was displeasing to the spirit of error, whose 
great influence we have already seen. It was, 
therefore, easy to find out one who was willing 
to stir up the smothered embers. Accordingly, 
Joachim, a Westphalian, sounded the tnmipet, 
which was afterwards echoed by Heshusius, then 
a minister of the Word, and now a bishop. We 
will speak of both by and by. An Exposition of 



BY THEODORE B£ZA. 71 

the consent of the Churches, which Calvin pub- 
lished at this time, exasperated the rage of these 
men the more, the more profitable it proved to 
all the lovers of truth. 

The following year, (1555,) by the wonderful 
goodness of God, put an end to domestic strife, 
and gave the Republic and Church of Geneva 
desired repose. The factious had ruined them- 
selves by their own hands, a dreadful conspiracy 
having been very opportunely discovered, through 
the petulant audacity of certain of the conspirators 
when in a state of drunkenness. Some of them 
were capitally punished, and others exiled; and 
although the latter continued for some time after 
to trouble the State, they all at last came to a 
shameful end; thus affording a singular ex- 
ample of tardy, indeed, but still just punishment 
from God. No sooner was the republic thus 
freed from those pests, when, by another act of 
the Divine goodness, in consequence of the reply 
of the four Helvetian cities, (we mentioned that 
their opinion had on the previous year been asked 
by the Senate when making inquiry into the 
ecclesiastical discipline of Geneva,) all the an- 
cient edicts relating to ecclesiastical polity were, 
contrary to the expectation of the factious, put 
to the vote, and carried by the common suffrages 
of the citizens. Calvin, however, did not want 
occasion for strenuous exertion. Abroad he was 



72 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

^ both engaged, at the request of the King of 
Poland, in establishing the churches of that Idng- 
dom, and also with that furious tempest produced 
by a change of affairs in England, and by which 
those three bishops and martyrs of incomparable 
piety, John Hopper, Nicholas Ridley^ and Hugh 
Latimer, with others almost innumerable, and at 
last also the great Cranmer, Archbishop of Can- 
terbury, were driven to heaven. He also exoled 
himself greatly in consoling his brethren who 
were in bonds in France, and especially five most 
devoted martyrs who were this year burned with 
the greatest cruelty at Cambray. 

At home the ashes of Servetus began again to 
sprout, one Matthew Gribald, a lawyer of some 
eminence, being detected favouring his blas- 
phemies. He had accidentally come to Geneva, 
(he was the owner of Fargias, a village in the 
neighbourhood of Geneva,) and been introduced 
to Calvin by certain Italians, who had been his 
pupils at Padua. Calvin, however, refusing to 
give him the right hand of fellowship unless they 
were previously agreed as to the primary article 
of the Christian faith, viz., the Holy Trinity, left 
no room for admonition or argument. Accord- 
ingly, he afterwards experienced that of which 
Calvin even then forewarned him, viz., that the 
heavy judgment of God was impending over 
him for his obstinate impiety. He first fled to 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 73 

Tubingen, where he had been introduced by the 
favour of Vergerius, and being afterwards taken 
up at Berne, was liberated on abjuring his heresy. 
Returning again to his former course, and be- 
coming the patron and host of Gentilis, of 
whom we will speak by and by, he was at 
last seized with the plague, and in that way 
anticipated the punishment which otherwise 
awaited him. 

Another circumstance which occurred this year 
did not allow Calvin's joy to be complete. A 
faction, composed of a few neighbouring min- 
isters, who in themselves felt inclined to oppose 
Calvin, and were, moreover, instigated by Bolsec, 
to gain some degree of reputation, by attacking 
an individual so celebrated, men, moreover, whose 
characters had already many stigmas attached to 
them, raged like Bacchanalians against him, al- 
leging that he made God the author of evil, by 
excluding nothing from his eternal providence 
and ordination. These calumnies, to which we 
have already alluded, although they did not move 
him from his course, )ret, from the slanderous 
manner in which they were urged, obliged him 
to obtain permission from the Senate to proceed 
to Berne with deputies, and plead the cause of 
truth before the Bernese themselves. The cause 
was accordingly pleaded; the result being, that 
Sebastian was convicted of infamy, and banished, 



74 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

and Bolsec also was ordered to leave the coun- 
try; but it was not thought proper to give any- 
express decision on the subject itself. The Lord 
thus consulted for the good of his Church. Had 
a decision been given, Calvin might have seemed 
to have obtained, by authority and influence, that 
which he afterwards obtained voluntarily. For 
not long after, (not, however, till Calvin's death,) 
all those calumnies vanished into smoke, and 
Andrew Zebedee, the bitterest of the accusers, 
when on his death-bed, in the town of Newburgh, 
about four miles distant from Geneva, sending 
for the principal citizens, made a voluntary con- 
fession of the truth which he had opposed, and 
in detestation of his own conduct, ordered all his 
papers to be burned in their presence. This was 
assuredly a better decision in Calvin's favour, than 
if it had been given by a thousand decrees of the 
Senate. 

In the following year, (1556,) Calvin, while 
preaching, was suddenly seized with ague, and 
ultimately obliged to leave the pulpit. Many false 
rumours arose on the subject, and the Papists 
were so delighted, that during public service at 
Noyons, Calvin's native city, the monks gave 
thanks to their idols for his death. But the 
prayers of the good prevailed; and so far was 
Calvin from dying of this attack, that, on the 
contrary, as if he had renewed his strength, he 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 75 

tindertook an unusually long journey, viz., to 
Frankfort, whither he had been invited, in order 
to allay the dissensions which had arisen in the 
French Church. On his return, (1557,) although 
still weakly in health, he, however, omitted none 
of his daily labours, and published in the follow- 
ing year his most learned Commentaries on the 
Psalms, with a truly valuable preface. Part of 
this year, which was very turbulent, in conse- 
quence of tumults excited by some of these fac- 
tious ministers, and distressing from the deamess 
of com, he spent in maintaining the truth against 
Joachim the Westphalian. After he had written 
his last answer to the Westphalian, who, how- 
ever, continued his endless prating, I took the 
task upon myself, with a success of which, by the 
favour of God, I have certainly no reason to re- 
pent. At this time also, both he and I refuted 
the calumnies which Castellio had caused to be 
anon3miously circulated against the eternal pre- 
destination of God. 

But the thing which grieved him most of all 
was the very cruel persecution of the godly at 
Paris, by breaking in upon their meeting in St 
James's Street, where they had assembled to cele- 
brate the Lord's Supper. About eighty of their 
nimiber were taken, (the rest having escaped by 
the darkness of the night,) and were dragged 
to the prisons at daybreak, amid reproach and 



76 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

insult, although several ladies of the highest rank 
were among them. The rage of the king had 
been inflamed, not only by those who surrounded 
him, but also by the circumstances of the times; 
for this occurrence took place just after the news 
had arrived of the great defeat at St Quintin. 
The godly having assembled at night, because it 
was not in their power to do so by day, those old 
and stale calumnies devised against the Chris- 
tians, in ancient times, were again revived by one 
Demochares, a Doctor of Sorbonne, who, for- 
sooth, insinuated that all these calamities were 
truly to be ascribed to the Christians alone, ^yit- 
nesses were even suborned to prove the putting 
out of lights and prostitution ; this persons were 
found credulous enough to believe. Seven martyrs 
were therefore led forth to the flames, and this 
was thrice repeated; the list including a certain 
lady of rank, whose fortitude, as well as that of 
the other six, and among them two very young 
men, was truly admirable. 

But the calumny of the Sorbonnists was ex- 
posed, though by no means suppressed, by a 
matron who voluntarily came forward to court 
investigation for her imprisoned daughters, who 
were said to have been violated, and also by the 
very excellent and learned individual who had 
officiated there as pastor for some months before, 
and who, in an admirable little book, completely 



BY THEODORE BEZA. fJ 

refuted all those lies. Calvin also procured an 
embassy to be sent with the utmost dispatch 
from the German princes. By these means the 
storm was somewhat calmed. The year which 
followed, (1558,) was a happy one for the Re- 
public of Geneva, a perpetual confederation hav- 
ing been entered into between the Bernese and 
the Genevese, to the gp-eat disappointment of those 
who had been banished. A variety of circum- 
stances attended this successful result, among 
others a last fruitless attempt of the banished. 
But on this I have determined not to enlarge. 
Abroad persecution was again renewed in France, 
and at home the abominable heresy of the Tri- 
theists arose, as from the ashes of Servetus, under 
the auspices of one Valentine Gentilis, a native of 
Cosenza. To obviate these evils, deputies were 
sent to the princes of Germany, with a letter from 
Calvin, explaining the many calamities of the 
churches, and requesting their interposition, and 
he himself, meanwhile, wrote numerous letters to 
confirm the sufferers. The course which was 
taken in the case of Gentilis, and the end of that 
monster, I will relate briefly; because a full ac- 
count of the whole matter, partly drawn up by 
Calvin himself from the public proceedings, and 
partly written with fidelity by Benedict Aretius, 
a minister of Berne, with an appendix, contain- 
ing a refutation of his blasphemy, together with 



78 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

all and every thing pertaining to the subject, was 
published in this city in the year 1567. 

This unhappy man, then, who was endowed with 
a shrewd but also with a crafty and sophistical 
turn of mind, a considerable time after punish- 
ment had been inflicted on Sfervetus, having fallen 
in with his treatise, as well as Calvin's refutation, 
easily perceived that neither the phantoms nor 
ideas with which he had coloured the heresy of 
the Samosatene, nor the confounding of the per- 
sons with the essence as introduced by Sabellius, 
nor, in fine, the Divinity of Christ, as it was held 
by the impure Arius, could be reconciled with the 
Word of God. On the other hand, he saw that 
what was delivered in Scripture concerning the 
one essence of God, and the three hypostases, 
with distinct differences from each other, could 
not be made to accord with htmian reason. He 
therefore did what minds of his description are 
wont to do, that is, instead of submitting to the 
wisdom of God, he persuaded himself that noth- 
ing was true that did not accord with human 
reason. Therefore, assigning supremacy to the 
person of the Father only, whom he maintained 
to be alone the sole and only self-existing God, 
he began openly to profess what he called Essen- 
tiation, that is, a propagation of essences, three 
in number, both as persons and as essences, that 
is, in other words, three Gods, three eternal. 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 79 

omnipotent, and infinite Beings. In this way he 
impudently placed himself in opposition, not only 
to the holy Word of God, but also to the Coun- 
cil of Nice\^( repudiating the Athanasian Creed,) Nt\<<^€ 
and the authority of the most ancient writers, also 
such as Ignatius, Tertullian, and Lactantius. 
For he not only rejected all orthodox writers who 
followed the Council of Nice, but even charged 
them with impiety. This blasphemy was fol- 
lowed by others concerning the hypostatic union. 
These articles he brought forward secretly at first 
to a few individuals, the principal being John 
Paul Alciat, a military man from Milan, and 
George Blandrata of Salusses, a physician by pro- 
fession. Having at last submitted his views to 
the Italian Presb)rtery, an extraordinary meeting 
was held, where, being patiently heard in pres- 
ence of certain select senators, and of all the min- 
isters and presbyters, and refuted by Calvin out 
of the Word of God, as to ever)rthing which he 
thought proper to adduce, the result was, that 
the Italians immediately subscribed the orthodox 
faith, with only six exceptions, and even these 
afterwards, on being taken aside, subscribed with 
their hand indeed, but, as it afterwards appeared, 
not with the heart also. Gentilis then returning 
to his old course, is detected circulating his 
former blasphemy, and when apprehended makes 
no attempt at concealment, but is heard as long 



80 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

and as much as he chose. At length, as if van- 
quished, (for he had nothing but obstinacy to 
oppose to Calvin,) he pretends to be exceedingly 
penitent, and, indeed, a copy of his recantation, 
in his own handwriting, is still extant. In short, 
having gone through the streets abjuring his 
heresy, he is dismissed, after binding himself by 
oath not to go beyond the gates of the city. 
Shortly, however, breaking faith, he runs off to 
Savoy to Matthew Gribald, and is followed some 
time after by Alciat and Blandrata, the future 
devastators of Transylvania and the neighbour- 
ing countries. But Gentilis (the judgment of 
God even then impending over him) continued 
to reside with Gribald — for they both despised 
the other two as ignorant and unlearned men — 
and began to print a small work against Atha- 
nasius and Calvin. He proceeded afterwards to 
Lyons, where he got the printing finished, prefix- 
ing a dedication to the Prefect of Gez, who was 
altogether unaware of his wickedness. Being 
afterwards apprehended at Lyons by the Papists, 
(I know not why,) he told them that he was 
writing against Calvin, and was set at liberty as 
one who deserved well of the Catholic Church. 
After this he went into Moravia to Blandrata 
and Alciat, and others of the same stamp. After- 
wards, when they could not come to an agree- 
ment among themselves, (most of them having 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 81 

gone over from Tritheism to the doctrine of Paul 
of Samosata,) as if the hand of Christ himself 
were leading him to punishment, he returns to 
Savoy to his friend Gribald. But that plague 
another plague had already carried oflF. Calvin, 
too, 'had by this time been taken from us. Then, 
as if he had been altogether infatuated, or be- 
cause he trusted that since Calvin's death there 
was nobody remaining by whom he could be con- 
victed, he goes directly to the Prefect of Gez, 
who was deservedly oflfended with him, and be- 
ing immediately recognised, and, by the just 
judgment of God for his former tergiversation, 
sent to Berne to plead his cause, was there con- 
victed of perjury and manifest dishonesty. After 
many fruitless attempts to bring him back to the 
right way he was put to death, and so paid the 
punishment due to his many crimes. Such, then, 
was the termination of this cause. And yet there 
are not wanting some excellent defenders of 
Christianity, forsooth, both among the Catholics 
and among those worthies the Ubiquitarians, who 
dare to accuse Calvin as the author of these blas- 
phemies, nay, to calumniate him as one who 
opened up the way to Atheism and Mahommedan- 
ism; though the truth is, that while they were 
fast asleep, Calvin was the first and almost the 
only one in our time by whom those very blas- 
phemies were most laboriously confuted. But at 



& LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

Paris the Cardinal, by whose nod the King ad- 
ministered all affairs, attempted to withdraw the 
cognizance of heresy from the ordinary judges 
(those whom they call laics) to a triumvirate of 
cardinals. The Parliament of Paris, opposing by 
divine rather than human suggestion, inasmuch 
as they were pleading their own cause and not 
the cause of Christ, he abandoned his nefarious 
attempt. 

But the end of this year was to us the com- 
mencement of a greater sorrow; Calvin being 
seized, in the month of October, with a quartan 
fever, a disease which we have at length learned, 
by too sad experience, is justly regarded by 
medical men as fatal to those who are advanced 
in years. For although that disease in Calvin's 
case continued only eight months, yet it so ex- 
hausted his spare body, worn out by labours and 
exertions, that he never entirely recovered it. 
Meanwhile the physicians strongly advising, and 
we also beseeching him to have some regard for 
his health, he, by necessity, desisted from preach- 
ing and lecturing, but continued spending days 
and nights in dictating and writing letters. He 
had no expression more frequently in his mouth 
than that life, as he expresssed it, would be bitter 
to him if spent in indolence, though, indeed, we 
who were strong might, in comparison with him, 
have been thought indolent. Of this we have a 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 83 

testimony in the last edition of his Christian In- 
stitutes, both in Latin and French, and his Com- 
mentaries on Isaiah, not so much an amended 
edition of those which Galars took down from 
his Lectures, as an entirely new work. 

The following year, viz., 1559, was remarkable 
for the peace and very close affinity contracted 
between the two most powerful kings, and would, 
perhaps, have been the last year of the Genevese 
Republic, had not the counsels of the Papists, 
who were abusing the simplicity of King Henry, 
been providentially frustrated. For it is certain 
that Henry, after issuing the most severe edicts, 
and throwing some of the senators into prison, 
merely for giving it as their opinion that in the 
meanwhile, until a general council was called, 
more leniency should be shown in matters of re- 
ligion, had it especially in view to restore the 
Duke of Savoy, and completely overthrow Ge- 
neva. Calvin, on the contrary, though in bad 
health, laboured at Geneva to defeat his designs. 
He confirmed the Churches and all the brethren, 
who, on account of the prospect before them, were 
in the greatest distress, and was incessant in 
prayer imploring assistance from the Lord. In 
the midst of the terror which prevailed both at 
home and abroad, the monarch, while in the very 
act of preparing for the celebration of the mar- 
riage by which he was to confirm the peace, re- 



I/' 



84 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

ceived a fatal wound in a mock combat, and that 
from the hand of the very man to whom, as com- 
mander of the Royal Guards, he had formerly 
assigned the office of apprehending those senators. 
This death Cardinal Lorraine wished it to be 
thought he had afterwards expiated by the most 
iniquitous murder of Annas de Bourge, a most 
learned lawyer, a most upright senator, and, in 
fine, a most holy martyr of Christ. 

But Geneva, by the singular providence of God, 
as if the Lord were again and again causing the 
purest light to arise out of the thickest darkness, 
felt so confident in these times, (the thing is 
scarcely credible,) that in the very year, and al- 
most at the very instant, when these powerful 
princes were conspiring her destruction, it gave 
orders, on the suggestion of Calvin, for the erec- 
tion of a magnificent building for a school, pro- 
vided with eight teachers of youth, and puWic 
professors of Hebrew, Greek, Philosophy, and 
Theology. The dedication to Almighty God took 
place in due form in a full assembly of the peo- 
ple in the principal church, wherein, for the first 
time, were read and established those laws which 
related to the appropriation and perpetual main- 
tenance of this most useful and sacred instituticMi. 

In the following year (1560) much obloquy 
was thrown upon Calvin by some, who charged 
him with instigating certain persons against 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 85 

Francis II., the heir to his father's dominions; 
the persons meant being those from whose fate 
the tumult has received the name of Amboise. I 
know for certain that Calvin had no part or por- 
tion in this matter, and even openly disapproved 
it, both by word, and by letters written to his 
friends. This same year, one Stancarus of 
Mantua (Italy seeming fatal to the Poles) began 
to assert that Christ is not a Mediator, except 
according to the flesh, Wnging a charge of 
Arianism against all who held that he was a 
Mediator as God. The ground of the charge 
was, that they, in this way, made the Son in- 
ferior to the Father. This calumny, and the 
whole heresy, was solidly refuted, among others 
by Melancthon and Martyr. Calvin also, at the 
request of the Poles, confuted it very briefly, but 
with great force; and at the same time foresee- 
ing what shortly happened, viz., that some un- 
skilful persons, in their zeal to refute Stancarus, 
would, if they did not take care, fall into the 
error of the Tritheists, he distinctly forewarned 
them of the danger, and exhorted them, while 
standing on th^ir guard against Blandrata and 
his followers, and asserting that Christ was 
Mediator in both natures, not to multiply the 
Godhead. In so far, however, as regarded those 
who were to perish, this exhortation was given 
in vain. 



86 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

At this time also, the Bohemian Waldenses 
having sent two of their brethren to Calvin, and 
put some questions to him concerning religion, 
he, of course, kindly answered them, and also 
advised them to enter into full connection with 
other churches. At the same time, not a few 
Frenchmen having taken refuge in England, after 
the death of Queen Mary, trusting to the singular 
piety and humanity of her Most Serene Majesty, 
Queen Elizabeth, and several of the clergy hav- 
ing, with the consent of Edmund Grindall, Bishop 
of London, requested that some one should be 
sent to constitute a French Church there, it was 
agreed to send Galars. 

In the end of the year 1560, Francis the Sec- 
ond having suddenly died, at the very time when 
all things seemed so utterly desperate that God 
alone could give a remedy, Charles the Ninth 
had no sooner succeeded to the crown than a 
messenger arrived from him with a letter, in 
which he complained that persons were sent from 
Geneva to disturb his kingdom of France, and 
demanded that they should be forthwith recalled ; 
or that, otherwise, he would not overlook the 
very just cause he had to avenge the injury. Cal- 
vin being called upon by the Senate, replied in 
his own name and that of his colleagues, that on 
the petition of the French churches they had given 
their advice to certain ^^^^ of foiown faith and 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 87 

integrity, whom they thought fit for the purpose, 
not to be wanting to their country, when im- 
ploring their assistance in a cause so holy as that 
of training up a pure church; that this advice 
had been acted upon, not in order to disturb the 
kingdom, but to teach the gospel of peace; and 
that, moreover, if they were accused of having 
done any thing of the kind, they were prepared 
to answer their accusers, in presence of the king 
himself. The matter went no farther. The same 
year, Calvin and myself answered the book of 
that most troublesome man, Tilemann Heshusius. 
Calvin next refuted the blasphemies which Valen- 
tine Gentilis had printed at Lyons, against the 
Athanasian Creed. He also published his Praelec- 
tions on Daniel, dedicating them to the churches 
of France. In these he was, indeed, an inter- 
preter of the prophet; but he also, in the dedica- 
tion, became himself a prophet, predicting im- 
pending storms at the very time when the meet- 
ing of the bishops was held at Poissy, and when, 
at a very full Convention of the Estates of the 
Kingdom, an approved Confession of the Gallic 
churches was by me submitted to the king. At 
this time most people were flattering themselves 
that an immediate blow was to be given to the 
Papacy. At this period also, one Francis Bald- 
win, afterwards surnamed Ecebolius, (change- 
ling,) on account of his having changed his re- 



88 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

ligion at least three or four times, (for, even be- 
fore the last calamity, which befel the French 
churches on the 24th of August 1572, "we have 
the testimony of most excellent and venerable 
men, nay, even Baldwin's own letter to that effect, 
exhibited to the Synod, that he was exceedingly 
desirous to be one day connected with us;) this 
man, I say, being suborned by a cardinal, and by 
wicked arts reconciled to the Navarrene, cir- 
culated at court a short treatise, either published 
by himself or by one Cassander, who (by his 
own account) was a pious and moderate man; 
a book worse even than the Interim of Charles 
the Fifth, in this respect, that under the semblance 
of a moderate reform, it defended all the corrup- 
tions of the Papacy. Calvin having been made 
aware of this matter by me, published a refuta- 
tion, to which addition^ were shortly after made, 
sufficient to make all aware of the temper and 
the intentions of Baldwin. Neither this, however, 
nor any other reply, could suppress his ravings; 
nor did he from that time desist from assailing 
Calvin with his vile invectives, until at the end 
of the year, hated by God, and by men of both 
religions, whom he had so often deceived,' while 
prosecuting some lawsuit or other at Paris, or 
pining with envy, because he saw another 
preferred to him to accompany Henry III., 
when setting out to visit the kingdom of 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 89 

Poland, he ceased at the same time to slander 
and to live. 

But in the year 1562, after not only peace but 
also liberty had been granted to the French 
churches on certain conditions, by a formal edict 
of the king, the Navarrene being forthwith 
seduced by the wiles of the Papists, and the Duke 
of Guise, after committing the savage slaughter 
at Vassy, having sounded the trumpet and com- 
menced that civil war, which has now been raging 
for twelve successive years in miserable France, 
it is impossible to describe the many heavy cares 
which weighed upon Calvin; his infirmities also 
increasing so much, that it might then have been 
seen he was advancing with rapid step to a better 
life. He, however, ceased not to comfort and 
exhort, nay, also to preach and deliver his lec- 
tures on Theology. He, moreover, drew up that 
most admirable Confession of Faith which was 
presented to the States of the Empire at Frank- 
fort, in the name of the Prince of Conde and all 
the pious, who, in addition to the injury of being 
most unjustly involved in war, had been also 
most undeservedly traduced to the Germans, as 
holding certain false doctrines. 

It will not be disagreeable to the reader here 
to mention a circumstance not unworthy of ob- 
servation. On the 19th of December, which hap- 
pened to be a Sabbath, Calvin was confined to 



90 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

bed with the gout. The north wind having con- 
tinued to blow, with the greatest violence, for two 
successive days, Calvin, in the hearing of several 
persons, says, "I know not what the cause of it 
is, but during the night I thought I heard martial 
music sounding aloud, and could not persuade 
myself that it was not really so. Let us pray, I 
beseech you; for some matter of great moment 
is going forward." It turned out that on that 
very day a fierce battle was fought at Dreux, 
though the news of it did not arrive for some 
days after. In the following year, (1563,) Cal- 
vin's diseases had so much increased, and were 
so numerous, as to make it almost impossible to 
believe that so strong and noble a mind could be 
any longer confined in a body so fragile, so ex- 
hausted by labour, and, in fine, so broken down 
by suflfering. But even then he could not be 
persuaded to spare himself. Nay, if at any time 
he abstained from public duty, (and he never did 
so without the greatest reluctance,) he still at 
home gave answers to those who consulted him, 
or wore out his amanuenses by dictating to them, 
though unfatigued himself. In testimony of this, 
we have his two very serious Admonitions to the 
Poles against the blasphemers of the Holy 
Trinity; also the answers which he gave, both 
by word and writing, to those brethren who were 
sent to him from the Synod of Lyons ; the Com- 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 91 

mentary on the Four Books of Moses, which he 
wrote in Latin, and which he afterwards himself 
translated into French; and, finally, his Com- 
mentary on the Book of Joshua, which was 
the last of his labours. He began it at this 
time, and brought it to a close just before his 
death. 

The year 1564 was to him the commencement 
of perpetual felicity, and to us of the greatest 
and best founded grief. On the 6th of Febru- 
ary, the asthma impeding his utterance, he de- 
livered his last sermon ; and from that time, with 
the exception of his being sometimes carried to 
the meeting of the congregation, where he de- 
livered a few sentences, (the last occasion was on 
the last day of March,) he entirely desisted from 
his office of preaching. His diseases, the effect 
of incredible exertions of body and mind, were 
various and complicated, as he himself states in 
a letter which he addressed to the physicians of 
Montpelier. Besides being naturally of a feeble 
and spare body, inclining to consumption, he 
slept almost waking, and spent a great part of 
the year in preaching, lecturing, and dictating. 
For at least ten years he never dined, taking no 
food at all till supper; so that it is wonderful 
he could have so long escaped consumption. Be- 
ing subject to hemicrania, for which starvation 
was the only cure, he, in consequence, sometimes 



92 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

abstained from food for thirty-six hours in suc- 
cession. Partly also from overstraining his voice, 
and partly from the immoderate use of aloes, a 
circumstance not attended to till it was too late, 
he became afflicted with ulcerated haemorrhoids, 
and occasionally, for about five years before his 
death, discharged considerable quantities of blood. 
When the quartan fever left him, his right limb 
was seized with gout; every now and then he 
had attacks of colic; and, last of all, he was 
afflicted with the stone, though he had never been 
aware of its existence till a few months before 
his death. The physicians used what remedies 
they could ; and there was no man who attended 
more carefully to the prescriptions of his physi- 
cians, except that in regard to mental exertions 
he was most careless of his health, not even his 
headaches preventing him from taking his turn 
in preaching. While oppressed with so many 
diseases, no man ever heard him utter a word un- 
becoming a man of firmness, far less unbecoming 
a Christian. Only raising his eyes towards 
heaven, he would say, "O Lord, how long;" for 
even when he was in health this was an expres- 
sion which he often used in reference to the 
calamities of his brethren, which night and day 
affected him much more than his own sufferings. 
We advising and entreating him that while sick 
he should desist from all fatigue of dictating, or 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 93 

at least of writing, — "What/' he would say, 
"would you have the Lord to find me idle?" 

On the loth of March, having gone to him in 
a body, as we were wont to do, we found him 
dressed, and sitting at his little table, where he 
usually wrote or meditated. On seeing us, after 
he had remained silent for some time, with his 
forehead leaning on one hand, as was his custom 
in studying, he at length, with a voice now and 
then interrupted, but with a bland and smiling 
countenance, says, "My dearest brethren, I feel 
much obliged to you for your great anxiety on 
my account, and hope that in fifteen days (it 
was the stated day for censure of manners) I 
will be present for the last time at your meeting ; 
for I think that by that time the Lord will mani- 
fest what he has determined to do with me, and 
that the result will be that he is to take me to 
himself." 

Accordingly, on the 24th of same month, he 
was present at the censures, as he had been wont 
to be; and these having been quietly performed, 
he said that he felt that the Lord had given him 
a short respite, and taking a French New Testa- 
ment into his hands, he read some passages from 
the notes which are appended to it, and asked 
the opinion of the brethren respecting them, be- 
cause he had undertaken to get them corrected. 
The next day he felt worse, as if fatigued by the 



/ 



94 UFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

previous day's labour; but on the 27th, being 
conveyed to the door of the senate-house, he went 
up, leaning on two attendants, into the hall, and 
there having introduced a new rector of the 
school, uncovered his head, and returned thanks 
for the kindness he had received, and especially 
for the attention which the Senate had shown 
him during this his last illness ; "for I feel," says 
he, "that I am now in this place for the last time." 
Having thus spoken, with faltering voice, he took 
his leave, amidst sobs and tears. On the 2d day 
of April, which was Easter day, although much 
exhausted, he was carried to the church in a chair, 
and was present during the whole service. He 
received the Lord's Supper from my hand, and 
sung the hymn along with the others, though 
with tremulous voice, yet with a look in which 
joy was not obscurely indicated on his dying 
countenance. 

On the 25th of April, he made his will in the 
following terms: — 

THE TESTAMENT OF JOHN CALVIN. 

"In the name of God, Amen. On the 2Sth 
day of April, in the year of our Lord 1564, I, 
Peter Chenalat, citizen and notary of Geneva, 
witness and declare that I was called upon by 
that admirable man, John Calvin, minister of the 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 95 

Word of Giod in this church at Geneva, and a 
citizen of the same State, who, being sick in body, 
but of sound mind, told me that it was his inten- 
tion to execute his testament, and explain the na- 
ture of his last will, and begged me to receive it, 
and to write it down as he should rehearse and 
dictate it with his tongue. This I declare that I 
immediately did, writing down word for word 
as he was pleased to dictate and rehearse; and 
that I have in no respect added to or subtracted 
from his words, but have followed the form dic- 
tated by himself. 

"In the name of the Lord, Amen. I, John 
Calvin, minister of the Word of God in " this 
church of Geneva, being afflicted and oppressed 
with various diseases, which easily induce me to 
believe that the Lord God has determined shortly 
to call me away out of this world, have resolved 
to make my testament, and commit my last will 
to writing in the manner following: — First of 
all, I give thanks to God, that taking mercy on 
me, whom he had created and placed in this 
world, he not only delivered me out of the deep 
darkness of idolatry in which I was plunged, that 
he might bring me into the light of his gospel, 
and make me a partaker in the doctrine of salva- 
tion, of which I was most unworthy; and not 
only, with the same mercy and benignity, kindly 
and graciously bore with my faults and my sins. 



^ 



96 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

for which, however, I deserved to be rejected by 
him and exterminated, but also vouchsafed me 
such clemency and kindness that he has deigned 
to use my assistance in preaching and promulgat- 
ing the truth of his gospel. And I testify and 
declare, that it is my intention to spend what yet 
remains of my life in the same faith and religion 
which he has delivered to me by his gospel; and 
that I have no other defence or refuge for salva- 
tion than his gratuitous adoption, on which alone 
my salvation depends. With my whole soul I 
embrace the mercy which he has exercised to- 
wards me through Jesus Christ, atoning for my 
sins with the merits of his death and passion, 
that in this way he might satisfy for all my 
crimes and faults, and blot them from his re- 
membrance. I testify also and declare, that I 
suppliantly beg of him that he may be pleased 
so to wash and purify me in the blood which my 
Sovereign Redeemer has shed for the sins of the 
human race, that under his shadow I may be able 
to stand at the judgment-seat. I likewise declare, 
that, according to the measure of grace and good- 
ness which the Lord hath employed towards me, 
I have endeavoured, both in my sermons and also 
in my writings and commentaries, to preach his 
Word purely and chastely, and faithfully to in- 
terpret his sacred Scriptures. I also testify and 
declare, that, in all the contenti(xis and disputa- 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 97 

tions in which I have been engaged with the 
enemies of the gospel, I have used no impostures, 
no wicked and sophistical devices, but have acted 
candidly and sincerely in defending the truth. 
But, woe is me! my ardour and zeal (if indeed 
worthy of the name) have been so careless and 
languid, that I confess I have failed innumerable 
times to execute my office properly, and had not 
he, of his boundless goodness, assisted me, all 
that zeal had been fleeting and vain. Nay, I even 
acknowledge, that if the sapie.-goodnes> had not 
assisted me, those mental eiidowments which the 
Lord bestowed upon me would, at his judgment- 
seat, prove me more and more guilty of sin and 
sloth. For all these reasons, I testify and de- 
clare that I trust to no other security for my 
salvation than this, and this only, viz., that as 
God is the Father of mercy, he will show him- 
self such a Father to me, who acknowledge my- 
self to be a miserable sinner. As to what re- 
mains, I wish that, after my departure out of 
this life, my body be committed to the earth, 
(after the form and manner which is used in this 
church and city,) till the day of a happy resur- 
rection arrive. As to the slender patrimony 
which God has bestowed upon me, and of which 
I have determined to dispose in this will and 
testament, I appoint Anthony Calvin, my very 
dear brother, my heir, but in the way of honour 



96 UFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

onty> giving to him for his own the silver cup 
which I received as a present from Varanius, 
and with which I desire he will be contented. 
Every thing else belonging to my succession I 
give him in trust, begging he will at his death 
leave it to his children. To the Boys' School I 
bequeath out of my succession ten gold pieces; 
as many to poor strangers; and as many to 
Joanna, the daughter of Charles Constans, and 
myself by affinity. To Samuel and John, the 
sons of my brother, I bequeath, to be paid by 
him at his death, each 400 gold pieces; and to 
Anna, and Susanna, and Dorothy, his daughters, 
each 300 gold pieces ; to David, their brother, in 
reprehension of his juvenile levity and petulance, 
I leave only 25 gold pieces. This is the amount 
of the whole patrimony and goods which the 
Lord has bestowed on me, as far as I can esti- 
mate, setting a value both on my library and 
moveables, and all my domestic utensils, and, 
generally, my whole means and effects; but 
should they produce a larger sum, I wish the 
surplus to be divided proportionally among all 
the sons and daughters of my brother, not ex- 
cluding David, if, through the goodness of God, 
he shall have returned to good behaviour. But 
should the whole exceed the above mentioned 
sum, I believe it will be no great matter, espe- 
cially after my debts are paid, the doing of which 



BY TH£ODOR£ BEZA. 99 

I have carefully committed to my said brother, 
having confidence in his faith and good-will ; for 
which reason I will and appoint him executor of 
this my testament, and along with him my dis- 
tinguished friend, Lawrence Normand, giving 
power to them to make out an inventory of my 
effects, without being obliged to comply with the 
strict forms of law. I empower them also to sell 
my moveables, that they may turn them into 
money, and execute my will above written, and 
explained and dictated by me, John Calvin, on 
this 25th day of April, in the year 1564." 

"After I, the foresaid notary, had written the 
above testament, the aforesaid John Calvin im- 
mediately confirmed it with his usual subscrip- 
tion and handwriting. On the following day, 
which was the 26th day of April of same year, 
the same distinguished man, Calvin, ordered me 
to be sent for, and along with me, Theodore 
Beza, Raymund Chauvet, Michael Cop, Lewis 
Enoch, Nicholas Colladon, and James Bordese, 
ministers and preachers of the Word of God in 
this church of Geneva, and likewise the distin- 
guished Henry Scrimger, Professor of Arts, all 
citizens of Geneva, and in presence of them all, 
testified and declared that he had dictated to me 
this his testament in the form above written; 
and, at the same time, he ordered me to read it 
in their hearing, as having been called for that 



xoo LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN. 

purpose. This I declare I did articulately, and 
with clear voice. And after it was so read, he 
testified and declared that it was his last will, 
which he desired to be ratified. In testimony and 
confirmation whereof, he requested them all to 
subscribe said testament with their own hands. 
This was immediately done by them, month and 
year above written, at Geneva, in the street com- 
monly called Canon Street, and at the dwelling- 
place of said testator. In faith and testimony 
of which I have written the foresaid testament, 
and subscribed it with my own hand, and sealed 
it with the common seal of our supreme magis- 
tracy. 

"Peter Chenalat." 

This testament being executed, he sent an in- 
timation to the four syndics, and all the senators, 
that, before his departure out of life, he was de- 
sirous once more to address them all in the senate- 
house, to which he hoped he might be carried on 
the following day. The senators replied, that 
they would rather come to him, and begged that 
he would consider the state of his health. On 
the following day, when the whole senate had 
come to him in a body, after mutual salutations, 
and he had begged pardon for their having come 
to him, when he ought rather to have gone 
to them ; first premising that he had long desired 



BY THEODORE BEZA. loi 

this interview with them, but had put it off until 
he should have a surer presentment of his decease, 
he proceeded thus : — 

"Honoured Lords, — I thank you exceedingly 
for having conferred so many honours on one 
who plainly deserved nothing of the kind, and 
for having so often borne patiently with my very 
numerous infirmities. This I have always re- 
garded as the strongest proof of your singular 
good-will toward me. And though in the dis- 
charge of my duty I have had various battles to 
fight, and various insults to endure, because to 
these every man, even the most excellent, must 
be subjected, I know and acknowledge, that none 
of these things happened through your fault ; and 
I earnestly entreat you, that if, in anything, I 
have not done as I ought, you will attribute it 
tb the want of ability rather than of will; for I 
can truly declare that I have sincerely studied 
the interest of your republic. Though I have 
not discharged my duty fully, I have always, to 
the best of my ability, consulted for the public 
good ; and did I not acknowledge that the Lord, 
on his part, hath sometimes made my labours 
profitable, I should lay myself open to a charge 
of dissimulation. But this I beg of you, again 
and again, that you :will be pleased to excuse me 
for having performed io little in public and in 
private, coffipared with what I ought, to have 



IQS LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

done. I also certainly acknowledge, that on an- 
other account also I am highly indebted to you, 
viz., your having borne patiently with my vehe- 
mence, which was sometimes carried to excess; 
my sins, in this respect, I trust, have been par- 
doned by God also. But in regard to the doc- 
trine which I have delivered in your hearing, I 
declare that the Word of God, entrusted to me, 
I have taught, not rashly or uncertainly, but 
purely and sincerely; as well knowing that his 
wrath was otherwise impending on my head, as 
I am certain that my labours in teaching were 
not displeasing to him. And this I testify the 
more willingly before God, and before you all, 
because I have no doubt whatever that Satan, ac- 
cording to his wont, will stir up wicked, fickle, 
and giddy men, to corrupt the pure doctrine which 
you have heard of me." 

Then referring to the great blessings with which 
the Lord had favoured them, "I," says he, "am 
the best witness from how many and how great 
dangers the hand of Almighty God hath delivered 
you. You see, moreover, what your present 
situation is. Therefore, whether in prosperity or 
adversity, have this, I pray you, always present 
before your eyes, that it is he alone who estab- 
lishes kings and states, and on that account wishes 
men to worship him. Remember how David 
declared, that he had fallen when he was in the 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 103 

enjoyment of profound peace, and assuredly 
would never have risen again, had not God, in 
his singular goodness, stretched out his hand to 
help him. What then will be the case with such 
diminutive mortals as we are, if it was so with 
him who was so strong and powerful? You 
have need of great humbleness of mind, that you 
may walk carefully, setting God always before 
you, and leaning only on his protection ; assured, 
as you have often already experienced, that, by his 
assistance, you will stand strong, although your 
safety and security hang, as it were, by a slender 
thread. Therefore, if prosperity is given you, 
beware, I pray you, of being puffed up as the 
wicked are, and rather humbly give thanks to 
God. But if adversity befalls you, and death sur- 
rounds you on every side, still hope in him who 
even raises the dead. Nay, consider that you are 
then especially tried by God, that you may learn 
more and more to have respect to him only. 
But if you are desirous that this republic may be 
preserved in its streng^, be particularly on your 
guard against allowing the sacred throne on 
which he hath placed you to be polluted. For he 
alone is the supreme God, the King of kings, and 
Lord of lords, who will give honour to those by 
whom he is honoured, but will cast down the 
despisers. Worship him, therefore, according 
to his precepts; and study this more and more. 



IQ4 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

for we are always very far from doing what it 
is our duty to do. I know the disposition and 
character of each of you, and I know that you 
need exhortation. Even among those who excel, 
there is not one who is not deficient in many 
things. Let every one examine himself, and 
wherein he sees himself to be defective, let him 
ask of the Lord. We see how much iniquity 
prevails in the counsels of this world. Some are 
cold; others, negligent of the public good, give 
their whole attention to their own affairs ; others 
indulge their own private affections; others use 
not the excellent gifts of God as is meet; others 
ostentatiously display themselves, and, from over- 
weening confidence, insist that all their opinions 
shall be approved of by others. I admonish the 
old not to envy their younger brethren, whom 
they may see adorned, by God's goodness, with 
some superior gifts. The younger, again, I ad- 
monish to conduct themselves with modesty, keep- 
ing far aloof from all haughtiness of mind. Let 
no one give disturbance to his neighbour, but let 
every one shun deceit, and all that bitterness of 
feeling which, in the administration of the Re- 
public, has led many away from the right path. 
These things you will avoid, if each keeps within 
his own sphere, and all conduct themselves with 
good faith in the department which has been en- 
trusted to them. In the decision of civil causes 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 1Q5 

let there be no place for partiality or hatred; let 
no one pervert justice by oblique artifices; let no 
one, by his recommendations, prevent the laws 
from having full effect; let no one depart from 
what is just and good. Should any one feel 
tempted by some sinister affection, let him firmly 
resist it, having respect to him from whom he 
received his station, and supplicating the assist- 
ance of his Holy Spirit. Finally, I again entreat 
you to pardon my infirmities, which I acknowl- 
edge and confess befcure God and his angels, and 
also before you, my much respected Lords." 
Having thus spoken, and prayed to Almighty 
God, that he would crown them more and more 
with his gifts, and guide them by his Holy Spirit, 
for the safety of the whole Republic, giving his 
right hand to each, he left them in sorrow and 
in tears, all feeling as if they were taking a last 
farewell of their common parent. 

On the 28th of April, when all of us in the 
ministry of Geneva had gone to him at his re- 
quest, he says, "Brethren, after I am dead, per- 
sist in this work, and be not dispirited; for the 
Lord will save this Republic and Church from the 
threats of the enemy. Let dissension be far away 
from you, and embrace each other with mutual 
love. Think again and again what you owe to 
this Church in which the Lord hath placed you, 
and let nothing induce 3rou to quit it. It will, in- 



io6 UFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

deed, be easy for some who are weary of it to 
slink away, but they will find, to their experi- 
ence, that the Lord cannot be deceived. When 
I first came to this city, the gospel was, indeed, 
preached, but matters were in the greatest con- 
fusion, as if Christianity had consisted in noth- 
ing else than the throwing down of images ; and 
there were not a few wicked men from whom I 
suffered the greatest indignities; but the Lord 
our God so confirmed me, who am by no means 
naturally bold, (I say what is true,) that I suc- 
cumbed to none of their attempts. I afterwards 
returned thither from Strasburgh in obedience to 
my calling, but with an unwilling mind, because 
I thought I should prove unfruitful. For not 
knowing what the Lord had determined, I saw 
nothing before me but numbers of the greatest 
difficulties. But proceeding in this work, I at 
length perceived that the Lord had truly blessed 
my labours. Do you also persist in this vocation, 
and maintain the established order; at the same 
time, make it your endeavour to keep the people 
in obedience to the doctrine; for there are some 
wicked and contumacious persons. Matters, as 
you see, are tolerably settled. The more guilty, 
therefore, will you be before God, if they go to 
wreck through your indolence. But I declare, 
brethren, that I have lived with you in the closest 
bonds of true and sincere affection, and now, in 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 107 

like manner, part from you. But if, while under 
this disease, you have experienced any degree of 
peevishness from me, I beg your pardon, and 
heartily thank you, that when I was sick, you 
have borne the burden imposed upon you." 
When he had thus spoken, he shook hands with 
each of us. We, with most sorrowful hearts, 
and certainly not unmoistened eyes, departed from 
him. 

On the nth of May, having learned by a letter 
from Farel (Viret was farther distant) that the 
old man, now in his eightieth year, and in feeble 
health, had determined on making the journey 
to see him, he thus wrote him in Latin : — "Fare- 
well, my best and most right-hearted brother ; and 
since God is pleased that you should survive me 
in this world, live mindful of our friendship, of 
which, as it was useful to the Church of God, the 
fruit still awaits us in heaven. I would not have 
you fatigue yourself on my account. I draw my 
breath with difficulty, and am daily waiting till 
I altogether cease to breathe. It is enough that 
to Qirist I live and die ; to his people he is gain 
in life and in death. Farewell again, not forget- 
ting the brethren. At Geneva, nth May 1564." 
The good old man, however, came to Geneva, 
and after seeing and conversing with him, re- 
turned next day to Neufchatel. 

The interval to his death he spent in almost 



io8 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

constant prayer. His utterance, indeed, was much 
impeded, but his eyes, which to the very last 
were clear and sparkling, he raised towards 
heaven with an expression of countenance on 
which the ardour of the suppliant was fully dis- 
played. In his sufferings he often groaned like 
David, "I was silent, O Lord, because thou didst 
it;" and sometimes in the words from Isaiah, "I 
did mourn like a dove." I have also heard him 
say, "Thou, O Lord, bruisest me ; but it is enough 
for me that it is thy hand." His door must have 
remained open night and day, had all who wished 
to show their duty to him been admitted. When 
he saw that owing to his impeded utterance, 
which we have mentioned, he could not address 
them, he asked each one rather to pray for him 
than take any trouble about visiting him. He 
also often hinted to me, though I was aware that 
my presence was never disagreeable to him, that 
I ought not to allow my regard for him to inter- 
fere in the least with my avocations, so sparing 
was he of the time which required to be devoted 
to the Church, and so exceedingly careful not to 
be at all burdensome to his friends. 

In this way, resigned in himself, and consoling 
his friends, he lived till the 19th of May, on which 
day we ministers were wont to have our privy 
censures, and to dine together as a mark of our 
friendship ; Pentecost and the dispensation of the 



' BY THEODORE BE2A. 109 

Lord's Saiq>er being' to follow two days after. 
On that day, therefore, when be had allowed Qs 
to have a common supper prepared beside him- 
self, and having, as it were, collected his strength, 
had been conveyed from his bed to the adjoining 
room, he says, "I come to you, brethren, for the 
last time. I am never again to sit at table." This 
was a very sad commencement to onr supper. He, 
however, o£Fered up a prayer, and took a little 
food, conversing cheerfully as might be when we 
were at table. Before supper was completely fin- 
ished, he called to be removed into the adjoining 
chamber, and addressing us with a smilh^ counte- 
nance, says, ''The intervening wall, though it 
make me absent in body, will not prevent me 
from being present with yon in spirit." 

The event was as he had predicted. From that 
day he never rose from his bed. There was very 
little change on his countenance, but his whole 
body was so emaciated that nothing seemed left 
but the spirit On the day of his departure, viz., 
the 27th of May, be seoned to be stronger, and 
to speak with less difficulty. But it was nature's 
last effort, for in tiie evening, about eight o'clock, 
symptoms of approaching death suddenly ap- 
peared I bad just left him a little before, and 
Goi receiving intimation from the servants, im- 
mediately hastened to him with one of the 
brethren. We found he had abready died, and 



HO LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

SO very calmly, without any convulsion of his 
feet or hands, that he did not even fetch a deeper 
sigh. He had remained perfectly sensible, and 
was not entirely dq[)rived of utterance to his very 
last breath. Indeed; he looked much more like 
one sleeping than dead. On that day, then, at 
the same time with the setting sun, this splendid 
Itmiinary was withdrawn from us. 

That night and the following day there was a 
general lamentation throughout the city — the 
whole State regretting its wisest citizen — ^the 
Church deploring the departure of its faithful 
pastor — ^the academy grieving at being deprived 
of so great a teacher, and all lamenting the loss 
of one who was, under God, a common parent 
and comforter. Many citizens were eager to see 
the body, and could scarcely be torn away from 
it. Some foreigners also, who had come from a 
distance to see and hear him, among them the 
illustrious ambassador of the Queen of England 
to the court of France, were anxious to have a 
look of his corpse. At first admission was given ; 
but as the curiosity became excessive, and might 
have given occasion to calumny, it was thought 
advisable, on the following day, which was the 
Lord's Day, to wrap the body in linen, in the 
usual manner, and inclose it in its coffin. Two 
days after, the funeral took place, attended by 
the senators, pastors, and professors, and almost 



BY THEODORE BEZA. in 

the whole city, many shedding tears. He was 
buried in the common cemetery of Pldn Palais, 
with no extraordinary pomp, and, as he had com- 
manded, without any grave-stone. This sug- 
gested to me the following stanzas : — 

Romae ruentis terror ille maximus. 

Quern mortuum lugent boni, horrescunt mall 

Ipsa i quo potuit virtutem discere virtus. 

Cur adeo exiguo ignotoque in cespite clausus 

Cahinus lateat, rogas? 

Cahmum assidue comitata modestia vivum 

Hoc tumulo manibus condidit ipsa suis. 

O te beatum cespitem tanto hospite! 

O cui invidere cuncta possint marmoral 

He lived 54 years, 10 months, 17 days, the 
half of which he spent in the ministry. He was 
of moderate stature, of a pale and dark com- 
plexion, with eyes that sparkled to the moment of 
his death, and bespoke his great intellect In 
dress he was neither over careful nor mean, but 
such as became his singular modesty. In diet 
he was temperate, being equally averse to sordid- 
ness and luxury. He was most sparing in the 
quantities of his food^ and for many years took 
only one meal a-day, on account of the weakness 
of his stomach. He took little sleep, and had 
such an astonishing memory, that any person 
whom he had once seen he instantly recognised 
at the distance of years, and when, in the course 
of dictating, he happened to be interrupted for 



112 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

several hours, as often happened, as soon as he 
returned he commenced at once to dictate where 
he had left off. Whatever he required to know 
for the performance of his duty, diough involved 
in a multiplicity of other affairs, he never for- 
got. On whatever subject he was consulted, his 
judgment was so clear and correct, that he often 
seemed almost to prophesy; nor do I recollect 
of any person having been led into error in con- 
sequence of following his advice. He despised 
mere eloquence, and was sparing in the use of 
words, but he was by no means a careless writer. 
No theologian of this period (I do not speak 
invidiously) wrote more purely, weightily, and 
judiciously, though he wrote more than any in- 
dividual either in our recollection or that of our 
fathers. For, by the hard studies of his youth, 
and a certain acuteness ot judgment, confirmed 
by practice in dictating, he was never at a lo6s 
■ for an appropriate and weighty expression, and 
/ wrote very much as he spoke. In the doctrine 
which he delivered at the first, he persisted 
/ steadily to the last, scarcely making any change. 
Of few theologians within our recollection can 
the same thing be affirmed. With regard to his 
manners, although nature had formed him for 
gravity, yet, in the common intercourse of life, 
there was no man who was more pleaswt In 
bearing with infirmities he was remarkably pni- 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 113 

dent; never either putting weak brethren to the 
Mush, or terrifying them by unseasonable rebuke, 
yet never conniving at or flattering their faults. 
Of adulation, dissimulation, and dishonesty, 
especially where religion was concerned, he was 
as detennined and severe an enemy as he was a 
lover of truth, simplicity^ and candour. He was 
naturally of a keen temper, and this had been in- 
creased 1^ the very laborious life which he had 
led. But the Spirit of the Lord had so taught 
him to command his anger, that no word was 
heard to proceed from him unbecoming a good 
man. Still less did he ever allow his passion to 
proceed to extremes. Nor was he easily moved, 
unless when religion was at stake, though he had 
to do with men of a petulant and obstinate 
temper. 

That one endowed with so great and so many 
virtues should have had niuncrous enemies, both 
at home and abroad, will astonish no one who 
has read even flie account which profane history 
gives of men who were distinguished by their 
love of virtue. Little ground is there for won- 
dering that one who was both a most powerful 
defender of sound doctrine, and an example of 
purity of life, should have been bitterly assailed. 
The diing to be wondered at rather is, that a 
single man, as if he had been a kind of Giristian 
Hercules, should have been able to subdue so 



114 LIFE OF JOHN CALVIN, 

many monsters, and this by that mightiest of all 
clubs, the Word of God. Wherefore, as many 
adversaries as Satan stirred up against him, (for 
his enemies were always those who had declared 
war against piety and honesty,) so many trophies 
did the Lord bestow upon his servant. Some of 
those enemies give out that Calvin was a heretic, 
as if this were not the very name under which 
Christ was condemned, and that, too, by priests. 
He was expelled from Geneva! True; but he 
was also recalled. What, I ask, happened to the 
Apostles, what to Athanasius, what to Chrysos- 
tom? Other charges are brought against him, 
but of what kind? He was ambitious, forsooth, 
nay, he even aspired to a new popedom — ^he who, 
above all things, preferred this mode of life, this 
republic, in fine, this Church, which I may with 
truth describe as the abode of poverty. But he 
was a hoarder of wealth! — he, whose whole 
effects, including the proceeds of his library which 
was well sold, scarcely amounted to 300 gold 
pieces. Hence, when refuting this impudent 
calumny, he observed, not less shrewdly than 
truly, "If some will not be persuaded while I am 
alive, my death, at all events, will show that I 
have not been a money-making man." The 
Senate can testify that though his stipend was 
very small, yet he firmly refused any increase. 
Others make it a charge against him, that his 



BY THEODORE BEZA. 115 

brother, Anthony Calvin, divorced his first wife 
for adultery. What would they say, if he had 
continued to keep the adulteress? But if such 
misconduct is to be turned against him, what will 
become of the family of Jacob, and David, and 
the Son of God himself, who declared, that one 
of his twelve was a devil? As to indulgence in 
delicacies and luxury, let his labours bear witness. 
But then some are not ashamed to say and to 
write, that he reigned at Geneva, both in church 
and state, so as to supplant the ordinary tribunals. 
Others also give out that he procured a living 
man, and, in presence of the whole people, called 
him up as if he had been bringing a dead body 
to life, — 3, lie just as vile as if they had said he 
was the Pope at Rome. And yet Qaudius 
Sponse, that rhapsodist of Sorbonne, has dared 
to repeat it in his most slanderous book. For 
what would these people be ashamed to say ? No 
refutation is required by those who knew this 
great man when he was alive, nor by posterity, 
who will judge him by his works. 

Having been a spectator of his conduct for 
sixteen years, I have given a faithful account both 
of his life and of his death, and I can now de- 
clare, that in him all men may see a most beau- 
tiful example of the Christian character, an ex- 
ample which it is as easy to slander as it is 
difficult to imitate. 



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